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BEQUEST OF 

MISS CAROLINE GOAD 
1941 



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BRITISH BIRDS IN 
THEIR HAUNTS 



By the late 
REV. C. A. JOHNS, F.L.S 

Author of Flowers of the Field 
Edited, Revised, and Annotated bj 

J. A. OWEN 

Author of Birds in their Seasons, etc 
Collaborator in all Books by a 'Son of the Marshes ' 

Illustrated with 64 Coloured Plates (256 Figures) b/ 

WILLIAM FOSTER, M.B.O.U 

WITH A GLOSSARY OF COMMON AND PROVINCIAL NAMES AND 
OF TECHNICAL TERMS 

SEVENTH EDITION 




LONDON 

GEORGE ROUTLEDGE & SONS LIMITED 

NEW YORK: E. P. DUTTON U CO 



s/CH 



QL 



UNIFORM WITH THIS WORK. 

Each with a series of Coloured Plates and 
Text-illustrations, 

FLOWERS OF THE FIELD. By C. A. 
Johns, F.L.S., revised by Clarence 
Elliott. 

BRITISH BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS. By 
Dr. W. E. KiRBY. 

BRITISH FERNS AND THEIR ALLIES. By 
C. T. Druery. 

BRITISH FUNGI. By George Massee. of 
Kew Gardens. 

BRITISH TREES AND SHRUBS. By C. A. 
Johns. Edited by E. T. Cook. 

ILLUSTRATED NATURAL HISTORY OF 
THE WORLD. By Ernest Protheroe, 
F.Z.S. 

ROUND THE YEAR WITH NATURE. By 
W. J. Claxton. With 24 coloursd plates. 

ALPINE PLANTS OF EUROPE. By H. S. 
Thompson. With 64 coloured plates. 



GEORGE ROUTLEDGE & SONS. LTD. 



John's Birds, edited by Owen. 

First Edition, February, 1909; Reprinted, July, 1910; 
Reprinted, December, 19 15 ; Reprinted, November, 
1917; Reprinted, June, 1919; Reprinted, January, 
1921; Reprinted, October, 1922. 



Printal in Great Britain hy Butler & Tanner Frorrw. and London 



RFP I 1348 



EDITOR'S PREFACE 



This admirable work by the late Rev. C, A. Johns, F.L.S., which 
is now offered in a new form, has already proved the making of 
many a naturalist and it will be a deUght and help to many more 
nature lovers who wish to determine a species without recourse to 
bulky scientific works. 

In editing the present edition I have carefully preserved all Mr. 
Johns' delightful personal stories and his descriptions of the birds 
and their daily life in their haunts, but I have brought the scientific 
arrangement of the species up to date, cis well as altered the nomen- 
clature, in accordance with present-day knowledge and use. 

We begin with the Passeres because modem ornithologists are 
now nearly all agreed that this order attains the highest Avian 
development. 

I have rectified statements as to the local distribution of various 
species which, with the progress of time and local changes, no longer 
apply, and have added facts here and there which I considered of 
some value. 

The faithful and beautiful presentments made by Mr. William 
Foster for this new edition have no need of our commendation to 
the public. 



J. A. OWEN. 



B>B* III 



SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE 
GENERA OF BIRDS 

(Numbered in accordance with the Plates and Descriptions in this Volume.) 
ORDER PASSERES 

(PERCHING BIRDS) 

Bill various ; feet adapted for perching on trees or on the ground (not 
for grasping, wading, or swimming) ; toes four, aU in the same plane, three 
before and one behind ; claws slender, curved, and acute. Food, various ) 
that of the nestlings, perhaps in all instances, soft insects. 

FAMILY TURDID^ 
(Thrushes) 

Bill as long as the head, compressed at the sides ; upper mandible arched 
to the tip, which is not abruptly hooked, notch well marked, but not accom- 
panied by a tooth ; gape furnished with bristles ; feet long, with curved 
claws. Food — insects, snails and fruits. 

SUB-FAMILY TURDINM 
Young in fixst plumage differ from adults in having the upper and under 

parts spotted. 

Genus i. Turdus (Thrush, Blackbird, etc.) Bill moderate, compressed 
at the point ; upper mandible notched, bending over the lower 
one ; gape furnished with a few bristles ; nostrils basal, lateral, 
oval, partly covered by a naked membrane ; tarsus longer than 
the middle toe ; wings and tail moderate ; first primary very 
short or almost abortive, second shorter than the third or fourth, 
which are the longest. Pags i 

2. SaxIcola (Wheatear). Bill straight, slender, the base rather broader 

than high, advancing on the forehead, compressed towards the 
point ; upper mandible keeled, curved, and notched ; gape sur- 
rounded by a few bristles ; nostrils basal, lateral, oval, half closed 
by a membrane ; first primary half as long as the second, which 
is shorter than the third, third and fourth longest ; tarsus rather 
long ; claw of the hind toe short, strong and curved. Page lo 

3. PRAxfNCOLA (Chats). Bill shorter and broader than in Saxicola 5 

bristles at the gape strongly developed. Wings and tail rather short. 

Page 12 

4. RuTiciLLA (Redstarts). Bill slender, compressed towards the point, 

a little deflected and very slightly emarginate ; gape with tolerably 
large bristles. Nostrils basal, supernal, and nearly round. Wings 
moderate ; the first quiU short ; the second equal to the sixth ; 
the third, fourth and fifth, nearly equal, and one of them the longest. 
Legs slender, the tarsus longer than the middle toe, and covered 
in front by a single scale and three inferior scutellae. Page 14 



ri SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS 

5. ErIthacus (Redbreast). Bill rather strong, as broad as it is high 

at the base, where it is depressed, slightly compressed towards 
the tip ; upper mandible bending over the lower and notched, 
nostrils basal, oval, pierced in a membrane, partly hid by bristles 
diverging from the gape ; first primary half as long as the second, 
fifth the longest ; tail slightly forked. Page 16 

6. Daulias (Nightingale). Bill rather stout, straight, as broad as 

high at the base ; upper mandible slightly bent over at the tip } 
gape \vith a few short bristles ; nostrils basal, round, pierced in a 
membrane ; first primary very short, second and fifth equal in 
length, third and fourth longest ; tail somewhat rounded ; tarsus 
elongated. Page 17 

SUB-FAMILY ACCENTORINJE 

Bill strong and broad at base ; upper mandible overlapping lower and 
slightly notched at tip. 

7. Accentor (Hedge-sparrow). BiU of moderate length, strong, 

straight, tapering to a fine point ; edges of both mandibles com- 
pressed and bent inwards, the upper notched near the tip ; nostrils 
naked, basal, pierced in a large membrane ; feet strong ; claw 
of the hinder toe longest, and most curved ; first primary almost 
obsolete, the second nearly equal to the third, which is the longest. 

Page 20 
SUBFAMILY SYLVIINM 

Young on leaving nest differ slightly in colour from adults. 

8. Sylvia (Whitethroats, Blackcap, Warblers). Bill rather stout, 

short, not very broad at base ; upper mandible decurved towards 
point, which is slightly emarginate ; nostrils basal, lateral, oval, 
and exposed ; gape with bristles. Wings moderate, first quill very 
short. Tail with twelve feathers, generally rounded. Tarsus 
scutellate in front and longer than middle toe ; toes and claws short. 

Page 21 

9. AcROcfePHALUs (Reed, Marsh, Sedge, and Aquatic Warblers). Bill 

nearly straight, with culmen elevated, wide at base, compressed 
towards tip, and slightly emarginate ; edges of lower mandible 
inflected ; nostrils basal, oblique, oval, and exposed ; moderately 
developed bristles at gape. Forehead narrow, depressed. Wings 
rather short, first quill minute, third usually longest. Tail rounded, 
rather long. Legs long ; feet large and stout, hind toe strong j 
claws long and moderately curved. Page 2$ 

10. LocusTELLA (GiasshoppeT Warbler). Differs from other Sylviina 

chiefly in its more rounded tail and longer under tail-coverts. The 
late Professor Newton found the tendons of the tibicd muscles 
strongly ossified in this genus. Pctgf 28 

11. PHYLLdscopus (Chiffchaff, Willow and Wood-warblers). BiU slender, 

rather short ; upper mandible decurved from middle and compressed 
towards tip, which is very slightly notched ; nostrils basal, lateral, 
oblong, partly operculate, membrane clothed with small bristle- 
tipped feathers, intemasal ridge very thin ; gape beset with hairs. 
Wings rather long, first quill comparatively large, third or fourth 
longest. Tail shghtly forked, twelve feathers. Tarsus scaled in 
front, rather long. Toes long, claws curved. Page 30 

SUB-FAMILY REGUUNM 
ArboreaL Each nostril covered by a single stiff feather. 

12. RfeGULUS (Gold and Fire-crested Wrens). Bill very slender, awl- 

shaped, straight, compressed ; cutting edges bent inwards about 



SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS vil 

the middle ; nostrils partly concealed by small bristly feathers, 
directed forwards ; first primary very short, second much shorter 
than the third, fourth and fifth longest ; tail moderate ; tarsus 
slender, rather long. Page 33 

FAMILY PARID^ 

(Tits) 

BiU short, straight, conical, sharp-pointed, destitute of a notch ; nostrils 
basal, concealed by reflected bristly hairs. Small birds, remarkable for their 
activity, not highly gifted with musical power, constantly flitting and climb- 
ing about trees and bushes, which they examine for smaU insects, suspending 
themselves in aU attitudes, feeding also on grains and fruits, and not sparing 
small birds when they are able to overpower them. 

13. AcRfeDULA (Long-tailed Tit). Bill much compressed, both mandibles 

curved, upper considerably longer than lower. EyeUds with wide 
bare margins. Length of wing quills increases to fourth and fifth, 
which are longest. Tail very long, narrow, graduated, outer feathers 
one-third length of middle pair. Tarsus long, feet moderate. 

Page 3S 

14. Parus (Great, Blue, Cole, Marsh, and Crested Tits). BiU slightly 

compressed, upper mandible hardly longer than lower. First wing 
quill short, fourth or fifth longest. Tail moderate, even or slightly 
rounded. Tarsus moderate, feet strong. Page ij 

FAMILY PANURID^ 
(Reed lings) 

15. Pan<trus (Bearded Tit or Reedling). Bill short, subconical; upper 

mandible curved at tip and bending over lower one, which is nearly 
straight ; the edges of both somewhat inflected and not notched. 
NostrUs basal, oval, pointed in front and partly covered by reflected 
bristly feathers. Wing with ten quills, first almost obsolete, third 
longest, fourth and fifth nearly equal to it. Tail very long and, 
much graduated. Tarsus long and scuteUate in front ; feet stout ; 
claws not much hooked. Page 42 

FAMILY SITTIDiE 

(Nuthatches) 

16. SiTTA (Nuthatch). Bill moderate, strong, and slightly "conical ; lower 

mandible ascending from angle to point. Tongue short, horny 
tip abrupt and furnished with strong bristles. Nostrils basal, 
rounded, in deep hollow, covered by short feathers and hairs. Wings 
rather long ; first quill much shorter than second, fourth or fifth 
longest. Tail short, fiexible, broad, nearly square. Legs short, 
stout, tarsi scutellate ; toes long, strong, hind toe especially, outer 
toe joined at base to middle toe ; claws large, much hooked. 

Page 44 

FAMILY CERTHIID^ 

(Creepers) 

Bill either straight and subulate or slender, long, and curved ; nostrils 
basal ; tail never emarginate ; fourth toe coalesced at first phalanx with 
middle toe. Principally insectivorous. 

17. Certhia (Creeper). BiU rather long, slender, compressed, decurved, 

pointed ; nostrils basal, lateral, elongate, partly covered by mem- 



viii SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS 

brane. Wings moderate, rounded, first feather short, fourth and 
fifth longest. Tail of twelve feathers, long, stiflf, pointed, slightly 
decurved. Feet large, tarsus slender ; fore toes long, united at 
base as far as first joint ; claws moderate, but much curved , hind 
toe short, but with long curved claw. Plumage soft and thick, 
especially above. Page 47 

FAMILY TROGLODYTID^ 

18. TROGLfiDYTES (Wren). Bill moderate, compressed, slightly curved 

not notched, pointed. Nostrils basal, oval, partly covered by 
membrane. Wings short, concave, rounded ; first quill rather 
short, fourth or fifth longest. Tail generally short ; its feathers 
soft and rounded. Tarsus rather long and strong, middle toe united 
at base to outer but not to inner toe ; hind toe as long or longer 
than middle toe ; claws long, stout and curved. Plumage long 
and soft. Page 48 

FAMILY CINCLID^ 

19. CiNCLUS (Dipper). Bill moderate, slightly ascending, angular, higher 

than broad at base, straight, compressed, and rounded near tip ; 
upper mandible slightly decurving at point. Nostrils basal, lateral; 
in depression, cleft longitudinally, partly covered by membrane. 
Gape very narrow, without bristles. Wings short, broad, convex ; 
first quill very short, second not so long as third or fourth, which 
are nearly equal. Tail short. Legs feathered to tibio-tarsal joint ; 
tarsus longer than middle toe ; lateral toes equal in length, outer 
toe slightly connected with middle. Whole body closely covered 
with do\vii. Page 51 

FAMILY ORIOLID.E 

Bill with notch in upper mandible ; nostrils placed well in front of base 
of bill and quite bare. 

20. Ori6lus (Oriole). Bill an elongated cone, depressed at the base ; 

upper mandible keeled above, notched near the point, bending 
over the lower one ; nostrils basal, lateral, naked, pierced hori- 
zontally in a large membrane ; tarsus not longer than the middle 
toe ; wings moderate ; first primary very short, second shorter 
than the third, which is the longest. Page 53 

FMIILY STURNIDiE 

(Starlings) 

Bill nearly straight, short at the base, diminishing regularly to a sharp 
point, which is not distinctly notched; the rid^e of the upper mandible; 
ascends upon the forehead, 'dividing the plunage of that part; nostrils 
placed low in the bill ; planta tarsi entire ; winis moderate, not reaching to 
end of tail. An extensive and widely diffused family, comprising species for 
the most part above the average size of Passerine birds, yet inferior 
to the Crows. They are in general social, feeding much on the ground ; 
their legs and feet are robust, their gait stately, their plumage, though com- 
monly of dark colours, is lustrous, with reflections of steel-blue, purple, or 
green- 

21. Sturnus (Starling). Bill straight, forming an elongated cone, depressed 

broad at the base, bluntish ; upper mandible broader than the 
lower ; nostrils at the base of the bill, partly closed by an arched 
membrane ; first primciry very short, second longest. Page 54 



SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS ix 

22. Pastor (Rose-coloured Starling). Bill slightly arched, forming an 
elongated cone, compressed ; nostrils at the base of the bill partly 
covered by a feathery membrane ; wings with the first primary 
very short, second and third longest. Page $6 



FAMILY CORVID^ 
(Crows) 

Bill powerful, more or less compressed [at the sides ; upper mandible 
more or less arched to the point without distinct notch ; gape nearly 
straight ; nostrils concealed by sti£f bristles. Hallux very strong, but 
with its claw not as long as the middle toe and claw. Birds of firm 
and compact structure ; their wings long, pointed, and powerful ; their 
feet and claws robust. In disposition bold and daring, extremely sagacious, 
easily tamed and made famihar. Most of them have the power of imitating 
various sounds, but their natural voices are harsh. They evince a remarkable 
propensity for thieving and hiding brilliant and gaudy substances. In 
appetite they are omnivorous. 

23. Pyrrhocorax (Chough). BUI longer than the head, rather slender, 
arched from the base, and pointed ; nostrils oval ; feet strong, 
tarsus longer than the middle toe ; wings rounded, first primary 
short, fourth and fifth the longest ; taU even at the end. 

Page 56 

24 NucfFRAGA (Nutcracker). Bill about as long as the head, straight, 
conical, the base dilated, and dividing the feathers of the fore- 
head ; mandibles blunt, the upper somewhat the longer ; nostrils 
round ; wings rather long and pointed ; first primary shorter than 
the second and third, fourth longest ; taU nearly even. 

Page S7 

25. GArrulus (Jay). Bill shorter than the head, conical ; both mandi- 

bles equally curved, the upper notched near the tip ; crown feathers 
forming a crest ; wings rounded, fourth, fifth, and sixth primaries 
nearly equal, and the longest ; tarsus longer than the middle toe ; 
tail moderate, slightly rounded. Page 58 

26. Pica (Magpie). BUI, nostrils, and feet as in CoRvus ; wings short 

and rounded ; taU long, graduated. Page 59 

27. CoRvus (Raven, Crows, Rook). BUI not longer than the head, strong, 

straight at the base, cutting at the edges, and curved towards 
the point ; nostrils oval ; feet strong, tarsus longer than the middle 
toe ; wings pointed, first primary moderate, second and third 
shorter than the fourth, which is the longest ; tail moderate, rounded. 

Page 61 

FAMILY LANIID^ 
(Shrikes) 

Bill strong, arched, and hooked, the upper mandible strongly notched 
after the manner of the Falconid^ ; claws adapted for capturing insects 
and even small birds. Sylvan. Young barred below. 

28. Lanius (Shrike, or Butcher Bird). BUI short, flattened vertically 

(compressed) at the sides ; gape furnished with bristly feathers 
directed forwards ; wings with the first three primaries graduated, 
the third and fourth being the longest. P^ge 75 



X SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS 

FAMILY AMPELIDiE 

(Chatterers) 

Bin stout, approaching, especially in the form of the lower mandible, 
to that of the Cor%idae ; the upper mandible is however somewhat broad 
at the base, flat, with the upper edge more or less angular and ridged, and 
the tip distinctly notched. Feet usually stout, with the outer toe united 
to the middle one as far as, or beyond, the first joint. They feed 
principally on berries and other soft fruits, occasionally also on insects. 

ag. Ampelis (Waxwing). Bill as above ; nostrils oval, concealed by 
small feathers directed forwards ; wings long and pointed ; first 
and second primaries longest, some of the secondaries and tertiala 
terminating in wax-hke prolongations of their shafts. 

Page 76 

FAMILY MUSCICAPID^ 

(Flycatchers) 

Bill broad, flattened horizontally (depressed), shghtly toothed and adapted 
for catching small flying insects ; nostrils more or less covered by bristly 
hairs ; feet generally feeble. 

30. MuscfcAPA (Flycatcher). Bill moderate, somewhat triangular, de- 

pressed at the base, compressed towards the tip, which is slightly 
curved downwards ; gape armed with stiff bristles ; tarsus equjj 
to or longer than the middle toe ; side toes of equal length ; wings 
with the first primary very short, and the third and fourth longest. 

Page TJ 

FAMILY HIRUNDINID^ 

(Swallows and Martins) 

Beak short but broad, and more or less flattened horizontally ; month 
very deeply cleft ; feet small and weak ; wings with nine visible primaries, 
long and powerful, and thus adapted for sustaining a protracted flight in 
pursuit of winged insects, which form the sole sustenance of these birds ; 
tail long and usually forked ; plumage close, smooth, often burnished with 
a metallic gloss. Migratory birds, spending the summer in temperate cUmates, 
but being impatient of cold, withdrawing in winter to equatorial regions. 

31. HiRUNDO (Swallow). Bill short, depressed, very wide at base, com- 

missure straight. Nostrils basal, oval, partly closed by membrane. 
Tail deeply forked, of twelve feathers, the outermost greatlj' elon- 
gated and abruptly attenuated. Legs and feet slender and bare | 
toes rather long, three in front, one behind ; claws moderate. 

Page 80 

32. ChelIdon (Martin). Bill short, depressed, very wide at base, com- 

missure slightly decurved. Nostrils basal, oval, partly closed by 
membrane and opening laterally. Tail forked, of twelve feathers, 
outermost not abruptly attenuated. Legs and feet slender, closely 
feathered above ; toes rather long, three in front, one behind ; claws 
moderate, sharp. Page 83 

33. CoTiLE (Sand-martin). Bill short, depressed, very wide at base, 

commisssure straight. Nostrils, wings and tail as in chelidon. 

Legs and feet slender, and bare except for tuft of feathers on tarsua 

just above hallux ; toes moderate, three in front, one behind ; 

^ claTK's strong Page 84 



SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS xi 

FAMILY FRINGILLIDiE 

(Finches) 

Remarkable for the shortness, thickness, and powerful structure of the 
bill ; the upper and lower mandibles are usually equally thick, and their 
height and breadth are nearly alike, so that the bill when closed presents 
the appearance of a short cone, divided in the middle by the gape. By its 
aid they break open the hard woody capsules and frmt-stones containing 
the seeds and kernels which form their chief food. At nesting-time many 
species live on insect larvae, with which the youngarealmost exclusively fed. 
The wings have nine visible primaries. This family is one of immense extent, 
consisting of relatively small birds. 

34. LiGURiNUs (Greenfinch). BUI compressed towards tip, with scarcely 

perceptible notch at point ; nostrils basal, concealed by stiff feathers 
directed forwards ; wings rather pointed, first quill obsolete, second, 
third and fourth nearly equal and longest. Tail rather short, 
slightly forked. Tarsus scutellate in front ; toes moderate ; claws 
arched and laterally grooved. Page 86 

35. CoccoTHRAUSTES (Hawfinch). Bill tapering rapidly to point, culmen 

rounded ; mandibles nearly equal, edges inflected and slightly in- 
dented. Nostrils basal, lateral, oval, nearly hidden by projecting 
and recurved frontal plumes. Wings with first quill obsolete, 
third and fourth primaries nearly equal, sixth, seventh, and eighth 
curved outwards. Tail short, and nearly square. Tarsus scutellate 
in front, covered at sides with single plate, stout and short ; claws 
moderately curved, rather short and strong. Page 87 

36. Cardu6lis (Goldfinch and Siskin). Bill a rather elongated cone, 

compressed at the tip, and finely pointed ; wings long, pointed ; 
first three primaries nearly equal and the longest j tail slightly 
forked. Page 88 

37. Passer (Sparrows). Bill somewhat arched above ; lower mandible 

rather smaller than the upper ; first three primaries longest. 

Page 92 

38. Fringilla (Chaffinch and Brambling). Bill straight, sharp, pointed ; 

mandibles nearly equal ; first primary a little shorter than the 
second, much shorter than the third and fourth, which are nearly 
equal cind the longest. Page 95 

39. AcANTHis (Linnet, Redpolls, Twite). Bill a short straight cone, 

compressed at the tip ; wings long, pointed ; third primary some- 
what shorter than the first and second, which are equal and the 
longest ; tail forked. Page 98 

40. Pyrrhula (Bullfinch). Bill short and thick, the sides tnmid ; upper 

mandible much arched and bending over the lower one ; first 
primary nearly equal to the fifth, second a little shorter than the 
third and fourth, which are the longest. Page loi 

41. Loxia (Crossbill). Bill thick at the base ; both mandibles equally 

curved, hooked at the tips, and crossing each other at the points. 

Page 103 

42. Emberiza (Buntings, Yellow-hammer). Bill with upper mandible 

not wider than lower, edges of both inflected and those of latter 
gradually cut away (sinuated) ; the palate generally furnished 
with a hard bony knob ; wings moderate, first primary obsolete, 
second, third and foorth nearly equal. Tail rather long and slightly 
B.B. C 



xii SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS 

forked. Claws considerably curved, that of hind toe of moderate 
length. Page io6 

43. Plectrophenax (Snow Bunting). Bill with upper mandible narrower 

than lower, otherwise as in Embcriza. Wings long and pointed, 
first primary obsolete, second and third nearly equal and longest 
in wing, fourth considerably longer than fifth. Tail moderate 
and slightly forked. Front claws rather long and curved ; hind 
claw considerably curved and elongated. Page 1 10 

44. Calcarius (Lapland Bunting). Bill with considerably inflected 

cutting edges (tomia) ; claws of front toes short and shghtly curved ; 
hind claw nearly straight and elongated ; other characters much 
as in Plectrophenax. Page in 

FAMILY MOTACILLID^ 

(Wagtails and Pipits) 

Wings with nine visible primaries. Inner secondaries nearly as long as 
primaries. 

45. MoTACiLLA (Wagtail). Cutting edges of both mandibles slightly 

compressed inwards ; nostrils basal, oval, partly concealed by a 
naked membrane ; first primary acuminate and nearly obsolete, 
second and third nearly equal and longest ; one of the scapulars 
as long as the quills ; tail long, nearly even at the end ; tarsus 
much longer than the middle toe. Page iii 

46. Anthus (Pipit). Bill and nostrils very much as in Motacilla ; two 

of the scapulars as long as the closed wing ; first primary acuminate 
and nearly obsolete, second shorter than the third and fourth, 
which are the longest ; hind claw very long. Page 1 16 

FAMILY ALAUDID.E 

(Larks) 

Wings with nine or more visible primaries. Planta tarsi scutellate. Grani- 
vorous birds, frequenting open spaces, and singing during their flight ; nesting 
on ground and seeking their food there by running ; they are ' pulverators ', 
i.e. they shake dust or sand into their feathers instead of bathing. 

47. Alauda (Lark). Bill moderate, slightly'compressed at edges ; upper 

mandible more or less arched from middle. Nostrils basal, oval, 
covered by bristly feathers directed forward. Gape straight. 
Wings long ; first primary short but unmistakably developed ; 
second, third and fourth nearly equal, but third longest. Tail 
moderate, sUghtly forked. Tarsus longer than middle toe ; claws 
slightly curved and moderate, except that of hind toe, which is 
generally elongate and nearly straight. Page 119 

48. Otocorys (Shore-lark). Bill rather short, subconic ; upper mandi- 

ble shghtly arched. Head — in adult male — with tuft of long, 
erectile feathers on either side of occiput. Wings long ; first 
primary so small as at first sight to seem wanting, second longest but 
third nearly its equal, fourth decidedly shorter, outer secondaries 
short and emarginate at tip. Tail rather long, slightly forked. 
Tarsus shorter than middle toe ; claws moderate and verj-- shghtly 
cnrved, that of hind toe being comparatively straight. Page 123 



SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS xiu 

ORDER PICARI^ 

Opposed to the Passeres. The feet are relatively weaker and smaller. 

FAMILY CYPSELIDiE 

(Swifts) 
Tail of ten feathers (swallows have twelve). Gape very wide. 

49. Cypselus (Swift). Bill very short, flattened horizontally, triangular | 

upper mandible curved downwards at the point ; gape extending 
beyond the eyes ; legs very short ; toes all directed forwards ; 
wings extremely long ; first primary a little shorter than the second. 

Page 123 

FAMILY CAPRIMULGIDiE 

(Goatsuckers) 

The bill in this family resembles that of the Swallows, but is shorter and 
.weaker ; the gape is enormous and its sides are, for the most part, furnished 
with long and stiff bristles, which point forwards ; the wings axe long, and 
formed for powerful flight ; the feet are small, and feathered to the toes ; 
plumage soft and downy, and beautifully mottled with black, brown, grey, 
and white, varying in colour with the soil of their habitat ; the claw of the 
middle toe is dilated on one side and toothed like a comb. Tail of ten feathers. 
Nocturnal birds, feeding on large insects, which they capture in their flight. 

50. Caprimulgus (Goatsucker or Nightjar). Bill very short, somewhat 

curved, broad and flattened at the base ; upper mandible curved 
downwards at the tip ; gape extending beyond the eyes, and armed 
with strong bristles ; wings long ; first primary shorter than the 
second, which is the longest. Page 135 

FAMILY PICIDiE 

(Woodpeckers) 

Feet short, but of unusual strength ; the rigid toes diverge from a centre, 
two pointing forwards, and two backwards ; claws large, much curved, 
and very hard and sharp ; breast-bone shallow ; flight weak and undulating. 

SUB-FAMILY PICINM 
Tail feathers stiff and pointed : nostrils covered with bristles. 

51. Dendrocopus (Spotted Woodpeckers). Bill about as long as the 

head, robust, straight, irregular, compressed, pyramidal, laterally 
bevelled at the tip ; tongue long and extensile, the tip barbed ; 
Hostrils basal, oval, concealed by reflected bristly feathers ; wings 
with the first primary very short, fourth and fifth longest ; tail- 
feathers graduated, stiff and pointed. Fourth toe much longer 
than third. Prevailing colours of the plumage black and white, 
or black and red. Page 127 

52. Gecinus (Green Woodpecker). BiU hard, broad at base, compressed 

at tip ; upper mandible shghtly arched, ending abruptly with 
shallow groove on each side running parallel to and near the culmen, 
and longer than lower mandible, which is pointed and has the 
gonys nearer the tip than the base and the tomia rounded. The 
fourth toe equal to the third. Prevailing colour greenish, otherwise 
much as in Dendrocopus. Page 129 



xiv SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS 

SUB-FAMILY IYNGINJ3 
Nostrils partly covered by a membrane. 

53. IvNx (Wryneck). Bill shorter than the head, straight, conical! 

tongue long and extensile ; nostrils without bristles, partly closed 
by a membrane ; wings with the second primary somewhat the 
longest; tail-feathers soft and flexible. Page 131 

FAMILY ALCEDINID^ 

(Kingfishers) 

Bill long, stout, and pointed, with angular sides, not serrated ; feet small 
and feeble, the outer and middle toes united to the last joint ; wings rounded 
and hollow, ill adapted for protracted flight ; form robust, with a large 
head and usually a short tail. Predatory birds, feeding on fish, insects, 
and even reptiles, birds, and small quadrupeds. Scattered over the world, 
but Austraha and South America contain the greatest number of species. 

54. ALcfeDO (Kingfisher). Bill long, straight, quadrangular, sharp ; 

wings short with the third primary the longest ; tail very short. 

Page 132 

FAMILY CORACIID^ 

(Rollers) 

Bill corvine in shape ; culmen rounded ; nostrils near base of upper mandi- 
ble and hidden by bristly feathers ; tail feathers twelve. 

54. CorAcias (Roller). BiU compressed, straight, with cutting edges ; 
upper mandible slightly hooked at the point ; sides of the gape 
bristled ; tarsus short ; wings long ; first primary a little shorter 
than the second, which is the longest. Page 134 

FAMILY MEROPIDiE 
(Bee-eaters) 
Bill long ; culmen with sharply defined ridge ; toes joined for part of length 

55. Merops (Bee-eater). Bill long, compressed, slightly curved, slender, 

with cutting edges, broad at the base ; upper mandible keeled, 
the tip not hooked ; tarsus very short ; wings long, pointed, second 
primary the longest ; centre tail feathers elongated. Page 1 35 

FAMILY UPUPIDiE 
(Hoopoes) 

56. Upupa (Hoopoe). BiU longer than the head, slender, slightly arched, 

compressed ; feathers of the head long, forming a two-ranked 
crest ; tail even at the extremity. Page 1 36 

FAMILY CUCULIDiE 

(Cuckoos) 

Bill moderate, rather deeply cleft, both mandibles compressed, and more 
or less curved downwards ; nostrils exposed ; wings for the most part short ; 
tail of ten feathers lengthened ; toes four, two pointing backwards and 
two forwards, but the outer hind toe of each foot is capable of being placed 
at right angles with either the inner or outer front toe. A tropical family 
of birds, many of which migrate to the temperate regions in summer. Not 
so decidedly climbers as the Woodpeckers and Creepers, yet having great 
powo: of clinging. Their flight is feeble, their food soft-bodied insects. 



SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS xv 

varied in many cases with berries and other fruits, and some of the larger 
species will occasionally prey on mice, reptiles, and the eggs and young of 
birds. Most, perhaps all of the migratory species, lay their eggs in the nest? 
of other birds. 

57. CtJCULUS (Cuckoo). BUI shorter than the head, broad, depressed 
at the base, with the ridge curved and the sides compressed towards 
the tip, which is entire and acute; nostrils in a membranous groove, 
the opening rounded and exposed ; wings pointed, third primary 
longest ; tail long, graduated ; tarsi very short, feathered below 
the heei Page 137 



ORDER STRIGES 

(OWLS) 

Head large, feathered ; eyes large, dilated and projecting, each surrounded 
by a concave disc formed of stiif diverging feathers, concealing the cere 
and nostrils ; ears large, and of elaborate construction ; plumage lax and 
downy, adapted for slow and quiet flight ; outer toe reversible ; tibia more 
than double the length of tarsus. Food, small quadrupeds, birds, and insects. 

FAMILY STRIGID^ 
SUB.FAMILY STRIGTNM 
Bill somewhat elongated, bending at the tip only ; head-tufts wanting 
nostrils oval, oblique ; facial disc large and complete ; ears large, covered 
by an operculum ; wings long, the second primary longest ; tarsi long, 
feathered to the toes, which are strangely furnished with hair-Uke feathers ; 
claws long, the middle one serrated beneath. 

58. Strix (White Owl). Characters given above. Page 142 

SUBFAMILY SYRNIINJB 
Bill bending from the base ; tufts more or less conspicuous or wanting ; 
facial disc complete ; ears large, covered by an operculum ; legs feathered 
to the claws. 

59. Asio (Eared Owls). Nostrils oval, oblique ; tufts more or less elon- 

gated ; wings long, second primary the longest. Page 144 

60. SvRNiUM (Tawny Owl). Nostrils round; egrets wanting ; wings short 

and rounded ; fourth primary longest. Page 146 



ORDER ACCIPITRES 

(EAGLES, HAWKS, ETC.) 

Bill short, strong, stout at base, culmen strongly curved. Feet strong, 
armed with powerful talons which are capable of being bent under the feet, 
inner one stronger and more curved than others. Outer toe usuaUy not 
reversible. 

FAMILY FALCONID^ 
Head covered with feathers, though sides of face are more or less bare. 

SUB.FAMILY BUTEONINJE 
Bill rather small and weak, bending from the base ; cutting edge of the 
upper mandible nearly straight, or but slightly festooned; cere large; 



xvi SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS 

nostrils oval ; wings long ; the first four feathers deeply notched on their 
inner webs ; tail not forked. Hinder aspect of tarsus scutellate. 

6i. Circus (Harriers). Head surrounded by a circle of feathers ; tarsi, 
long and slender, feathered a little below the joint ; wings long 
third and fourth primaries the longest ; tail long, somewhat rounded. 

Page 147 

62. BuTEO (Buzzard). Lore without feathers ; tarsi short and strong, 

naked or feathered ; wings large, the fourth primary the longest. 

Page 150 

63. Pern IS (Honey Buzzard). Lore with feathers ; tarsi short and 

strong, naked or feathered; wings large, the fourth primary the 
longest. Page 151 

SUB-FAMILY AQUILINM 
Bill stout, convex or slightly angular above, straight at the base, much 
hooked at the tip, commissure simply festooned ; cere bristly ; nostrils 
rounded or oval ; wings long. Hinder aspect of tarsus reticulate. 

64. Aquila (Eagles). Upper mandible with the cutting edge nearly 

straight ; tarsi feathered to the toes ; claws unequal, grooved 
beneath; wings with the fourth primary longest. Page 152' 

65. HALiAfiTUS (Sea-eagle). Bill very long ; edges of the upper man- 

dible slightly prominent near the hook ; tarsi half-feathered ; 
claws unequal, grooved beneath ; wings ■wdth the fourth primary 
longest ; nostrils transverse, with bony margin all round. 

Page 153 

66. PANDfoN (Osprey). Bill short, cutting edges of the upper mandible 

nearly straigl t ; tarsi naked ; outer toe reversible ; t laws equal,' 
rounded beneath ; wings with the second primary longest. 

Page 154. 
SUB-FAMILY ACCIPITRINM 
(Long-legged Hawks) 

Bill short, strong, curved from the base ; edge of the upper mandible 
with a prominent festoon beyond the middle ; nostrils oval ; wings rounded,! 
short, reaching only to the middle of the tail ; middle toe much the 
longest. 

67. AccfpiTER (Sparrowhawk). Tarsi long and slender ; fourth and fifth 

primaries equal in length and the longest. Ridge of bill measured 
Irom margin of cere is less than half middle toe (without claw). 

Page 156 
SUB-FAMILY MILVINM 
Bill of moderate length, slightly curved from the base, upper mandible 
with a slight festoon ; nostrils oval, oblique ; wings long ; tail long and 
forked. 

68. MiLVUS (Kites). Tarsi feathered a little below the knee ; fourth 

primary the longest. Page 158 

SUB.FAMILY FALCONING 

Bill short, strong, curved from the base , upper mandible strongly toothed, 
lower notched ; nostrils round ; tarsi strong and short ; hinder aspect reticu- 
late ; wings long and pointed, with the second primary longest, the first 
and third equal in length and having the inner web notched near the 
extremity. 

6g. Falco (Falcons, Merlin, Hobby and Kestrel). Characters giren 
above. Page 159 



SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS xvii 

ORDER STEGANOPODES 

Hind toe articulated on the inner surface of the tarsus, united to other 
toes by a web. 

FAMILY PELECANIDiE 

Bill strong, edges of the mandibles minutely toothed ; wings long ; legs 
short ; toes four, all connected by a membrane. 

70. Phalacrocorax (Cormorant). Bill straight, longer than the head, 

compressed ; upper mandible much hooked at the point ; face 
and throat naked ; inner edge of the middle claw serrated ; tail 
rounded, rigid. Page 165 

71. SuLA (Gannet). Bill straight, longer than the head, compressed, 

tapering to a point, which is but shghtly curved ; face and throat 
naked ; inner edge of the middle claw serrated ; tail graduated. 

Page 168 

ORDER HERODIONES 

Hallux free, not united to other toes by a web, 

FAJVIILY ARDEID^ 

(Herons) 

Hind toe on same plane as others. Bill rounded or ridged ; notched, 
with no hook at end. Outer toe with broad basal web, obsolete at base of 
inner toe ; middle claw pectinated, loral space bare ; powder down patches 
present. 

72. Ardea (Herons). Edges of mandibles distinctly serrated ; head 

crested ; nape feathers elongated and ornamented ; plumes of 
fore-neck not disintegrated ; no dorsal train. Pcige 173 

•J2' Nv'TfcoRAx (Night Heron). Bill scarcely longer than the head, 
much compressed ; neck rather thick and short ; crest of three 
very long tapering feathers. In other respects resembhng Ardea. 

Page 173 

74. BoTAURUS (Bittern). Bill scarcely longer than the head, much com. 

pressed ; neck thick, clothed in front with long and loose feathers 
In other respects resembhng Ardea. Page 173 

FAMILY CICONIID^ 

(Storks) 

Hind toe elevated above plane of others ; no powder down patches ; bill 
not hooked at tip, 

75. CicoNiA (Stork). BUI much longer than the head, stout, tapering to 

a point ; nostrils near the base, pierced in the horny substance of 
the bill ; tarsi very long ; claws not pectinated ; wings moderate, 
third, fourth, and fifth primaries longest. Page 175 

FAMILY PLATALEIDvB 
(Spoonbills) 
Bill flattened, narrow in middle, and widening out into a spoon-shaped end. 

76. Platal6a (Spoonbill). Head partly bare, auricular orifice covered 

with plumes. Nostrils elongated and in a shallow depression. 

Pag» ij6 



xviii SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS 

ORDER ANSERES 

Tarsu3 about length of femur, reticulate at back and generally in front 
Bill straight, always with distinct nail at tip of upper mandible. Young 
covered with down, and able to run or svnm in a few hours alter hatching. 

^ FAMILY ANATID^ 

(Ducks, Geese, Swans, etc.) 

Bill thick, broad, high at the base, covered with a thin membranous skin 
and ending in a nail-like horny tip ; edges of the mandibles cut into thin 
parallel ridges, or toothed ; wings moderate ; legs placed not very far be- 
hind ; feet, four-toed, palmated ; hind toe free, placed high on the tarsus. 
Food, grass and aquatic weeds, worms, insects, molluscs, and small fish. 

SUB.FAMILY ANSERIN.E 

77. Anser (Geese). Bill nearly long as head, elevated and covered wth 

cere or skin at base ; conspicuous nail at tip ; under mandible 
smaller than upper ; nostrils lateral, near middle of bill ; tail of 
sixteen feathers ; legs under centre of body ; hind toe free, articu- 
lated upon tarsus. Page 176 

78. Bernicla (Brent and Bernicle Geese). Bill shorter than head, higher 

than broad at base ; culmen slightly convex, outline of lower man- 
dible decidedly so, leaving elliptical space displaying lamellae ; 
nostrils sub-basal ; neck feathers less furrowed than in A nser ; tail 
short, rounded ; tibia feathered to joint ; hind toe short and ele- 
vated. Page 180 

79. Cygnus (Swans). Bill of equal length throughout, furnished -^^ath 

knob at base ; nostrils medial ; legs short ; neck exceedingly long. 

Page 181 
SUB-FAMILY AN ATI DM 

Bill of equal width throughout, or broader at the top than at the base, of 
about the same width as the head ; legs short, placed rather behind the middle 
of the body ; hind toe without a pendent membrane ; tarsi somewhat round. 

80. Tadorna (Sheldrake). Bill with an elevated tubercle at the base, 

depressed in the middle; nostrils large, pervious; lower portion 
of tarsus in front with a row of transverse scutellae. Page 184 

81. Anas (Mallard, GadwaU). Bill long as head, broad, depressed, sides 

parallel, sometimes partially dilated, both mandibles with transverse 
lamellae on inner edges ; nostrils small, oval, lateral, anterior to 
base of bill ; wings rather long, pointed ; tail wedge-shaped ; legs 
rather short ; hind toe without lobe. Sexes difier in plumage. 

Page 185 

82. Spatula (Shoveller). Bill much longer than head, widening towards 

end, lamellae projecting conspicuously ; no soft membrane on sides 
of bill towards tip; wing pointed, first and second quills longest; 
tail short, graduated; legs very short. Page 189 

83. Dafila (Pintail). BiU long as head, edges nearly parallel, widening a 

little to end, lamellae inot strongly defined ; neck long, slender ; tail 
sharply pointed, central rectrices considerably elongated in male; 
margin of web to anterior toes slightly emarginate. Page 190 

84. QuERQUEDULA (Teal). BUI long as head, lamellae exposed along pro- 

jecting edge of upper mandible ; tail of sixteen feathers, short and 
rounded; hind toe very small, outer shorter than third, centre 
rather long ; interdigital membrane emarginate. Page 191 



SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS xix 

8s Mareca (Widgeon). Bill shorter than bead, higher than broad at 
base, depressed and narrowed towards point ; tail short, pointed ; 
tibia bare for short distance ; hind toe with very narrow lobe 

Page 192 

SUB-FAMILY FULIGULINM 

Hind toe with lobated membrane ; tarsi compressed. 

86. FuLiGULA (Pochard, Tufted Duck, Scaup). Bill not longer than 

head, slightly elevated at base, broader towards tip ; edges of upper 
mandible enclosing edges of lower ; nostrils near base. Page I93 

87. Clangula (Goldeneye). Bill much shorter than head, depressed to- 

wards nail, which is elliptical and decurved at tip ; lamellje hidden ; 
nostrils neair middle of bill. Page I9S 

88. Harelda (Long-tailed Duck). Bill much shorter than head, taper- 

ing rapidly to broad, decurved nail at tip. Lamellae slightly ex- 
exposed ; nostrils sub-basal. Feathering at base of bill forming 
oblique line, advancing furthest forward on forehead. Wings 
rather short, pointed ; scapulars elongate and lanceolate in adult 
male ; tail short, graduated except for two central feathers, which 
are long and tapering in adult male. Page 196 

89. SoMATERiA (Eider Duck). Bill swollen and elevated at base, extend- 

ing up the forehead, there divided by angular projection of feathers ; 
nostrils medial. Page 197 

90. CEdemia (Scoters). Bill short, broad, v\4th an elevated knob at the 

base, the tip much flattened ; nail large, flat, obtuse, slightly de- 
flected , lamellae coarse, widely set ; nostrUs oval, medial ; tail short, 
graduated, acute. Page 199 

SUB.FAMILY MERGANINM 

91. Mergus (Smew, Merganser, Goosander). Bill straight, slender, nar- 

row, approaching to cylindrical ; upper mandible hooked ; edges 
of both mandibles armed with sharp teeth directed backwards ; legs 
short, placed far backward. Page 201 



ORDER COLUMB^ 

(Pigeons and Doves) 

Bill swollen at tip, convex ; the upper mandible covered at the base with a 

soft membrane in which lie the nostrils, with a valve over them; tarsi covered 
fore and rear with hexagonal scales. 

The birds of this order have considerable powers of flight, and perch freely 
on trees or rocks. Their food consists principally of grain, seeds, and the 
leaves of herbaceous plants. The young are fed on a milky fluid secreted 
in the crop of the old birds. 

FAMILY COLUMBID^ 

Tail with twelve feathers ; hind toe with the skin prominently expanded 

on the sides. 

92. CoLUMBA (Wood-pigeon, Stock-dove, Rock-dove). Bill modwate, 

straight at base, compressed, point deflected ; tail nearly even ; 
first primary much larger than sixth. Page 203 

93. TuRTUR (Turtle-dove). Bill rather slender, tip of upper mandible 

gently deflected, that of lower scarcely exhibiting the appearance 
of an angle; tail rather long, graduated. Page 309 



K\ SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS 

ORDER PTEROCLETES 

FAMILY PTEROCLID^ 

94. Syrrhaptes (Sand-grouse). Bill small, gradually decurved ; nostrils 
basal, hidden ; wngs long, pointed, first primary largest ; tail 
of sixteen feathers, cuneate, central pair long ; tarsi short, strong ; 
feathered to toes ; tliree toes, all in front ; hallux obsolete ; soles 
rugose ; claws broad and obtuse. Page 211 



ORDER GALLIN.E 

Bill short and stout ; culmen arched, and overhanging the mandible 

FAJVIILY TETRAONID^ 

95. Tetrad (Black Grouse, Capercaillie). Bill strong ; eyebrows naked, 

adorned with scarlet papillae ; tarsi feathered, without spurs ; front 
toes naked, with pectinated margins ; hind toe larger than the 
nail. Page 212 

96. Lag6pus (Red Grouse, Ptarmigan). Front toes feathered, nearly 

smooth at the margins ; hind toe shorter than the nail ; in other 
respects like the last. Page 215 

FAMILY PHASIANIDiE 

Nostrils never hidden by feathers ; toes never pectinated. 

97. PhasiAnus (Pheasant). Cheeks naked, adorned with scarlet papillae; 

tail very long, of eighteen feathers. Page 219 

98. Perdix (Partridge). Bill strong ; orbits naked ; tarsus naked, male 

with a knob on the tarsus behind ; tail of sixteen feathers, short, 
bent down. Page 222 

99. Caccabis (Red-legged Partridge). Tail of fourteen feathers; tarsi 

armed with blunt spurs in male. Page 225 

100. CoTURNix (Quail). Bill slender ; orbits feathered ; wings with the 
first primary longest ; tcdl very short ; almost concealed by the 
tail-coverts. Pagt 226 



ORDER FULICARIiE 

(RAILS AND COOTS) i 

FAMILY RALLID^ 

(Rails) 

loi. Crex (Corn-crake). Bill shorter than the head, thick at the base, 
compressed, pointed ; front toes entirely divided, not margined j 
second and third primaries longest. Tail pointed, rectrices narrow. 

Page 228 

102. PoRZANA (Spotted and Little Crakes). Bill shorter than head ; wings 
shorter than in Crex ; second quill longest. ; secondaries shorter 
than primaries by length of hind toe and claw. Page 229 

X03. Rai-lus (Water-rail). Bill longer than head ; wings moderate, third 
and fourth quills longest. Page 330 



SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS xxi 

104. GALLfNULA (Moor-hen). Bill shorter than the head, stout, straight, 

compressed ; upper mandible expanding at the base and forming 
a disc on the forehead ; toes entirely divided, bordered by a narrow 
entire membrane, middle toe longer than tarsus. Pag« 231 

105. FOlica (Coot). Bill shorter than the head, straight, robust, convex 

above, much compressed ; upper mandible dilated at the base, 
and forming a naked patch on the forehead ; all the toes united 
at the base, and bordered by a scalloped membrane. Page 233 



ORDER ALECTORIDES 

Angle of the mandible always truncated, hind toe generally raised above 
level of others. 

FAMILY GRUIDvE 

Nasal depression more than half as long as maxilla ; rectrices twelve. 

106. Grus (Crane). Upper mandible deeply channelled ; nostrils medicd ; 

wings moderate ; third primary longest. Page 234 

FAMILY OTIDID^ 

(Bustards) 

Bill flattened and obtuse ; no hind toe ; tarsi unarmed ; wings very short ; 
rectrices sixteen to twenty. 

107. Otis (Bustard). Legs long, naked above the knee; wings moderate. 

hind quUl longest. Page 236 

ORDER LIMICOL.E 

(WADERS) 

Leg and tarsus long, the lower portion of the former generally destitute 
of feathers ; bill long or moderate ; toes three or four, more or less con- 
nected by a membrane at the base, sometimes lobated. Primaries eleven ; 
fifth secondary wanting ; after shaft to contour feathers present. 

Adapted by structure for feeding [in marshes, on the muddy or sandy sea- 
shore, or on the banks of lakes and rivers. Some, which feed on fish, have 
unusually long legs and powerful bills ; others, owing to their length of bill 
and legs, are able to search muddy places for worms and insects, without 
clogging their feathers ; and others, again, are decidedly aquatic, and have 
considerable swimming powers, thus approaching the next order ; the 
majority have great power of flight, and lay their eggs on the ground. 

FAMILY GLAREOLIDiE 

108. GLARfeoLA (Pratincole). Bill short, convex, compressed towards the 

point ; upper mandible curved throughout half its length ; nostrils 
basal, oblique ; legs feathered nearly to the knee ; tarsus long ; 
three toes in front, one behind, the latter joined on the tarsus ; 
wings very long ; first primary longest. Page 238 

FAMILY CHARADRIIDiE 

Hind toe absent in most species ; tarsus usually reticulate, sometimee 
scutellate. 

109. CEdicn6mus (Thick-knee). BiU stout, straight, longer than the head, 



xxii SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS 

slightly compressed towards the end ; nostrils in the middle of the 
bill, narrow, A\ath the aperture in front, pervious ; toes three, united 
by a membrane as far as the first joint ; wings as in the last. Pa(;e 239 

no. CuRSORius (Courser). Bill shorter than the head, depressed at the 
base, slightly curved, pointed ; nostrils basal, oval, covered by 
a little protuberance. Legs long, slender ; toes three, very short, 
divided nearly to the base, inner toe half the length of the middle 
one ; its claw serrated ; claws very short ; wings moderate ; first 
primary nearly as long as the second, which is the longest in the 
wing. Page 240 

III. CharAdrius (Plover). Bill shorter than the head, slender, straight, 
compressed, somewhat swollen towards the tip ; nasal channel 
reaching from the base through two-thirds of the bill, covered by a 
membrane ; nostrils basal, very narrow ; tarsi moderate, slender ; 
toes three, the outer and middle connected by a short membrane ; 
wings moderate ; first primary longest. Page 240 

112 SquatArola (Grey Plover). Bill shorter than the head, straight, 
swollen and hard towards the tip ; nostrils basal, narrow, pierced 
in the membrane of a long groove ; Ic^fs slender ; outer and middle 
toe connected by a short membrane, hind toe rudimentary, jointed 
on the tarsus, not touching the ground ; wings long, pointed ; first 
primary longest. Page 242 

113. EuDROMiAS (Dotterel). Bill shorter than head, slender, compressed ; 

nasal channel reaching about half length of biU. Wings mode- 
rate ; inner secondaries much longer than in Charadrius. 

Page 244 

114. iEoiALiTis (Ringed and Kentish Plovers). Bill much shorter than 

head, slender, straight to end of nasal channel, which extends be- 
yond middle of bill, then slightly raised, but decurved at tip ; wings 
long, pointed. Page 245 

115. Vanellus (Lapwing). Wings large, quills broad and rounded, the 

fourth and fifth primaries longest. In other respects resembUng 
Squatarola. Page 247 

1 16. HiEMATOPUS (Oyster Catcher). Bill longer than the head, stout, straight, 

forming a wedge ; legs moderate, stout ; toes three, bordered by a 
narrow membrane ; wings long ; first primary longest. Page 248 

117. Strepsilas (Turnstone). Bill short, thickest at the base and taper- 

ing ; nostrils basal, narrow, pervious ; legs moderate ; three front 
toes connected at the base by a membrane, fourth rudimentary, 
jointed on the tarsus, touching the ground with its tip. Page 250 

FAMILY SCOLOPACID^ 

(Snipes, etc.) 

Bill long and slendrr ; toes four, the hind one weak and elevated, very 
rarely wanting. 

1 18. Recurvtrostra (Avocet). Bill very long, slender, weak, much curved 

upwards, pointed ; legs long, slender ; front toes connected as far 
as the second joint; hind toe very smalL Page 252 

119. PhAlaropus (Phalarope). Bill as long as the head, slender, weak, 

depressed and blunt ; front toes connected as far as the first joint, 

and bordered by a lobed and slightly serrated membrane ; hind toe 

not bordered. Page 253 

iflOw ScoLOPAX (Woodcock), rnilnnp, compressed, superior ridge elevated 



SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS xxiii 

at base of mandible, prominent. Legs rather short, anterior toes 
almost entirely divided. Page 254 

121. Gallinago (Snipe). Bill very long; legs rather long and slender; 
anterior toes divided to the base. Page 256 

132. Calidris (Sanderling). Bill as long as the head, slender, straight, 
soft, and flexible, dilated towards the end ; nostrils basal, narrow, 
pierced in the long nasal groove which reaches to the tip ; legs 
slender ; toes three, scarcely connected by a membrane ; wings 
moderate ; first primary longest. Page 260 

I3> Tringa (Sandpiper, Knot, Dunhn, Stint). Bill as long as the head or a 
little longer, straight or slightly curved, soft and flexible, dilated, and 
blunt towards point ; both mandibles grooved along sides ; nostrils 
lateral wings moderately long, pointed, first quill longest ; legs 
moderately long ; three toes in front, divided to origin ; one be- 
hind, small, articulated upon tarsus. Page 261 

124. Machetes (Ruff). Bill straight, as long as the head, dilated and 

smooth at the tip ; nasal channel reaching to nearly the end of 
the bill ; nostrils basal ; first and second primaries longest ; toes 
lour, the outer and middle connected as far as the first joint ; neck 
of the male in spring furnished with a ruff. Page 266 

125. T6TANUS (Redshank, Sandpiper). Bill moderate, slender, soft at 

the base, solid at the end ; both macdibles grooved at the base, 
Hpper channelled through half its length ; nostrils pierced in the 
groove ; legs long, slender ; toes four. Page 26 

126. Lim6sa (Godwit). Bill very long, slender, curved upwards, soft and 

flexible throughout, dilated towards the tip, and blunt ; upper 
mandible channelled throughout its whole length ; nostrils hnear, 
pierced in the groove, pervious ; legs long and slender ; toes 
four, the outer and middle connected as far as as the first joint ; 
wings moderate ; first primary longest. Page 272 

127. NuMENius (Curlew, Whimbrel). Bill much larger than the head, 

slender, curved downwards. Page 273 



ORDER GAVI^ 

Front toes entirely connected by webs. Primaries, ten large and visible, 
one minute and concealed. 

FAMILY LARIDiE 
(Gulls, Terns, Skuas) 

SUB.FAMILY STERN I NM 

Bill straight, rather slender ; mandibles of about equal length. 

128. Hydrochelidon (Black, White- winged, and Whiskered Terns). Tail 
feathers rounded or slightly pointed ; tail short, less than half 
length of wing. Page 275 

l29v Sterna (Other Terns). Outer tail feathers longest, pointed ; tarsns 
short ; tail at least half length of wing ; bill compressed and slender ; 
tarsus never exceeds length of middle toe with claw. Page 276 



war SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS 

SUB-FAMILY LARINJS 
Bill with upper mandible longer and bent over tip of under one. 

130. Larus (Gull). Bill moderate, strong, sharp-edged above, compressed, 

slightly decurved ; hind toe high on the tarsus ; first primary nearly 
equal to the second, which is longest ; tail even, or but sUghtly 
forked. Page 281 

131. RissA (Kittiwake). Bill rather short and stout, considerably decurved; 

hind toe minute and usually obsolete ; first primary slightly exceed- 
ing second ; tail perceptibly forked in young, nearly square in adult.' 

Page 287 

SUB.FAMILY STERCORARIINM 

Bill with a cere; claws large, strong, hooked. 

133. Stercorarius (Skua). Bill moderate, strong, rounded above, com- 
pressed towards the tip, which is decurved ; nostrils far forward, 
diagonal, pervious ; hind toe very small, scarcely elevated ; the 
middle taU-feathers more or less elongated. Page 288 



ORDER PYGOPODES 

Wings short 

FAMILY ALCID^ 

(Auks) 

Bill much flattened vertically (compressed) ; wings short ; legs placed at 
the extremity of the body ; feet three-toed, palmated ; tail short. Food, 
mostly fish, and captured by diving. 

133. Alca (Razorbill). BiU large, sharp-edged, the basal half feathered^ 

the terminal part grooved laterally ; upper mandible much curved 
towards the point ; nostrils nearly concealed by a feathered mem- 
brane ; tail pointed. l-^*?* ^91 

134. Uria (Guillemot). Bill strong, nearly straight, sharp-pointed, of 

moderate length ; nostrils basal, partly covered by a feathered 
membrane j first primary longest. Page 292 

135. Mergulus. (Little Auk). Bill strong, conical, slightly curved, 

shorter than the head ; nostrils basal, partly covered by a feathered 
membrane ; first and second primaries equal. Page 294 

136. Fratercula (Puffin). Bill shorter than head, higher than long, 

ridge of upper mandible higher than crown ; both mandibles much 
curved throughout, transversely furrowed, notched at tip ; nostrils 
basal, almost closed by a naked membrane. Page 295 

FAMILY COLYMBIDiE 

(Divers) 

Bill slightly compressed, not covered with a membranous skin ; edges of 
the mandibles unarmed, or but slightly toothed ; -wings short ; legs placed 
far behind ; tarsi very much compressed ; toes four. Food, fish and other 
aquatic animal substances obtained by diving. Females smaller than males. 

137. CoLYMBUs (Diver). BiU forming a pointed cylindrical cone ; front 

toes entirely palmated ; tail very short. Page 197 



SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA OF BIRDS xxv 

FAMILY PODICIPEDIDiE 

(Grebes) 
Hallux raised above level of other toes ; toes with wide lateral lobes, nnited 
at base. Tail vestigial. 
138. PoDiciPES (Grebe). Bill forming pointed cylindrical cone ; second- 
aries, if any, very little shorter than primaries. Page 300 



ORDER TUBINARES 

External nostrils are produced into tubes ; anterior toes fully webbed ; 
hallux small or absent. 

FAMILY PROCELLARIID^ 

Nostrils united exteriorly above culmen. 

139. FuLMARUS (Fulmar). BiU not so long as head ; upper mandible of 

four portions divided by indentations, the whole large, strong, 
curving suddenly to point ; under mandible grooved along sides, 
bent at end ; edges of mandibles sharp ; nostrils prominent, united, 
enclosed, somewhat hidden in tube with single external orifice ; wings 
rather long, first quill longest ; tarsi compressed, feet moderate. 

Page 304 

140. PuFFiNUS (Shearwaters). Bill rather longer than head, slender ; man- 

dibles compressed, decurved ; nasal tube low, both nostrils visible 
from above, directed forwards and slightly upwards ; wings long, 
pointed, first quill slightly the longest; tail graduated; tarsi 
compressed laterally. Page 305 

141. Procellaria (Storm and Fork-tailed Petrels). Bill small, robust, 

much shorter than head, straight to nail, which is decurved ; wings 
long, narrow, second quill longest, slightly exceeding third, first 
shorter than fourth ; tail moderate, slightly rounded ; legs moderate, 
claws rather short. Page 307 



ORDER PASSERES 

FAMILY TURDIDiE 
Sub-Family TURDINiE 

THE MISTLE (OR MISSEL) THRUSH 

TURDUS VISCIVORUS 

Upper plumage ash brown ; space between the bill and eye greyish white ; 
wing-coverts edged and tipped with greyish white ; under parts white, 
faintly tinged here and there with reddish yellow, marked all over with 
deep brown spots, which on the throat and breast are triangular, in other 
parts oval, broader on the flanks ; under wing-coverts white ; three 
lateral tail feathers tipped with greyish white. Length eleven inches ; 
breadth eighteen inches. Eggs greenish or reddish white, spotted with 
brownish red. Young spotted on the head and back with buff and black. 

The largest British song bird, distinguished from the Song Thrush 
not only by its superior size, but by having white under wing-coverts, 
and the whole of the under part of the body buffish-wliite, 
spotted with black. It is a generally diffused bird, and is known by 
various local names ; in the west of England its popular name is 
Holm Thrush, or Holm Screech, derived most probably, not, as Yarrell 
surmises, from its resorting to the oak in preference to other trees, 
but from its feeding on the berries of the holly, or holm ; the title 
' Screech ' being given to it from its jarring note when angry or alarm- 
ed, which closely resembles the noise made by passing the finger-naU 
rapidly along the teeth of a comb. Its French name, ' Draine ', 
and German, ' Schnarre', seem to be descriptive of the same harsh 
' churr '. In Wales, it has from its quarrelsome habits acquired 
the name of Penn y llwyn, or, master of the coppice. Another 
of its names. Throstle Cock, expresses its alliance with the Thrushes, 
and its daring nature ; and another Storm Cock, indicates ' not 
that it delights in storms more than in fine weather, but that 
nature has taught it to pour forth its melody at a time of the year 
when the bleak winds of winter roar through the leafless trees'. 
The song of the Mistle Thrush is loud, wild, and musical. Waterton 
calls it ' plaintive ', Knapp ' harsh and untuneful '. I must 

B.B. * B 



a THE MISTLE (OR MISSEL) THRUSH 

confess that I agree with neither. This note, generally the earliest 
of the Spring sounds (for the Redbreast's song belongs essenti- 
ally to winter), is to my ear full of cheerful promise amounting to 
confidence — a song of exultation in the return of genial weather. 
The bird sings generally perched on the topmost branch of some 
lofty tree, and there he remains for hours together out-whistling 
the wind and heeding not the pelting rain. This song, however, 
is not continuous, but broken into passages of a few notes each, 
by which characteristic it may be distinguished alike from that 
of the Thrush or the Blackbird, even when mellowed by dis- 
tance to resemble either. The Mistletoe Thrush is essentially a 
tree-loving bird. During winter its food mainly consists of berries, 
among which those of the Mountain Ash and Yew have the pre- 
ference, though it also feeds on those of the Hawthorn, Ivy, Juniper, 
and the strange plant from which it derives its name.^ Towards other 
birds it is a very tyrant, selfish and domineering in the extreme ; 
to such a degree, indeed, that even when it has appeased its appe- 
tite it wiU allow no other bird to approach the tree which it has 
appropriated for its feeding ground. I have seen it take pos- 
session of a Yew-tree laden with berries, and most mercilessly 
drive away, with angry vociferations and yet more formidable 
buffets, every other bird that dared to come near. Day after 
day it returned, until the tree was stripped of every berry, when 
it withdrew and appeared no more. 

As soon as the unfrozen earth is penetrable by its beak, it adds 
to its diet such worms and grubs as it can discover ; and, if it 
be not belied, it is given to plunder the nests of other birds of 
their eggs and young. It may be on this account that Magpies, 
Jays, and other large woodland birds, robbers themselves, enter- 
tain an instinctive dishke towards it. Certainly these birds are its 
better enemies ; but in the breeding season it eludes their animo- 
sity by quitting the woods, and resorting to the haunts of man 
Its harsh screech is now rarely heard, for its present|object is not 
defiance, but immunity from danger. Yet it takes no extraor- 
dinary pains to conceal its nest. On the contrary, it usually places 
this where there is little or no foliage to shadow it, in a fork between 
two large boughs of an apple, pear, or cheery tree, sometimes only 
a few feet from the ground, and sometimes twenty feet or more. 
The nest is a massive structure, consisting of an external basket- 
work of twigs, roots, and lichens, within which is a kind of bowl of 
mud containing a final lining of grass and roots. The bird is an 
early builder. It generally lays five eggs and feeds its young 
on snails, worms, and insects. The range of the Mistle Thrush 
extends as far as the Himalayas. In Great Britain it is a resident 
species. 

^ That this thrush feeds on the berries of the mistletoe was stated by 
Yarrell, but it is not now generally believed to be*^ a fact. 




'^.^ -2*^*1^ 




Missel Thrush 
Fieldfare 



Song Thrush 
Redwing 



[fare p. 2. 




Blackbird (? inim. 



Blackbird ? ^ 



Ring Ouzel J ? 



THE SONG THRUSH j 

THE SONG THRUSH 

TURDUS MtJSICUS 

Upper parts brown tinged with olive ; wing-coverts edged and tipped with 
reddish yellow ; cere yellowish ; throat white in the middle, without 
spots ; sides of neck and breast reddish yellow with triangular dark 
brown spots ; abdomen and flanks pure white with oval dark brown 
spots ; under wing-coverts pale orange yellow ; bill and feet greyish 
brown. Length, eight inches and a half, breadth thirteen inches. Eggs 
blue with a few black spots mostly at the larger end. 

The Thrush holds a distinguished place among British birds, 
as contributing, perhaps, more than any other to the aggregate 
charms of a country life. However near it may be, its song is never 
harsh, and heard at a distance its only defect is, that it is not nearer. 
It possesses, too, the charm of harmonizing with all other pleasant 
natural sounds. If to these recommendations we add that the 
Thrush frequents aU parts of England, and resorts to the surburban 
garden as well as the forest and rocky glen, we think we may 
justly claim for it the distinction among birds, of being the last 
that we would willingly part with, not even excepting its allowed 
master in song himself, the Nightingale. Three notes are often 
repeated : Did he do it ? Shut the gate, Kubelik. 

The food of the Thrush during winter consists of worms, insects, 
and snaUs. The first of these it picks up or draws out from 
their holes, in meadows and lawns ; the others it hunts for among 
moss and stones, in woods and hedges, swallowing the smaller ones 
whole, and extracting the edible parts of large snails by dashing 
them with much adroitness against a stone. When it has once dis- 
covered a stone adapted to its purpose, it returns to it again and 
again, so that it is not uncommon in one's winter walks to come 
upon a place thickly strewn with broken shells, all, most probably, 
the ' chips ' of one workman. As spring advances, it adds 
caterpillars to its bill of fare, and as the summer fruits ripen, it 
attacks them all in succession ; strawberries, gooseberries, cur- 
rants, raspberries, cherries, and, on the Continent, grapes suit 
its palate right well ; and, when these are gone, pears and apples, 
whether attached to the tree or lying on the ground, bear, too often 
for the gardener, the marks of its beak on their ripest side. Dur- 
ing all this period it relieves the monotony of its diet by an occa- 
sional repast on animal food ; as, indeed, in winter it alternates 
its food whenever opportunity occurs, by regaling itself on wild 
berries. Yet, despite the mischief which it perpetrates in our 
gardens by devouring and spoiling much of the choicest fruit — for 
your thrush is an epicure, and tastes none but the ripest and best 
— the service which it renders as a devourer of insects more than 
compensates for all. So the gardener, if a wise man, wUl prefer the 
scare-crow to the gun, the protecting net to that which captures. 

I know two adjoining estates in Yorkshire. On one the gar- 



4 THE REDWING 

dener shoots blackbirds and thrushes in fruit time. On the other 
they are protected. The latter yields always more fruit than 
the former. 

The Thrush holds a high rank, too, among birds as an architect. 
Its nest is usually placed in a thorn-bush, a larch or young fir-tree, 
a furze-bush, an apple or pear tree, or an ordinary hedge, at no 
great elevation from the ground, and not concealed with much 
attempt at art. Indeed, as it begins to build very early, it is only 
when it selects an evergreen that it has much chance of effectually 
hiding its retreat. The nest externally is composed of feather- 
moss, intermatted with bents, twigs, and small roots, and termi- 
nates above in a thicker rim of the same materials. Thus far 
the bird has displayed her skill as basket-maker. The outer case 
is succeeded by a layer of cow-dung, applied in small pellets, and 
cemented with saliva. The builder, with a beak for her only trowel, 
has now completed the mason's work. But she has yet to show 
her skill as a plasterer ; this she does by lining her cup-like chamber 
with stucco made from decayed wood, pulverized and reduced to 
a proper consistence, kneading it with her beak. With this for 
her sole instrument, except her round breast, to give to the whole 
the requisite form, she has constructed a circular bowl sufficiently 
compact to exclude air and water, as true and as finely finished 
as if it had been moulded on a potter's wheel, or turned on a lathe. 

The Thrush lays four or five eggs, and rears several broods in 
the season, building a new nest for each brood. During incuba- 
tion the female is very tame, and will suffer herself to be approached 
quite closely without deserting her post. In the vicinity of houses, 
where she is familiar with the human form, she will even take worms 
and other food from the hand. 



THE REDWING 

TURDUS ILfACUS 

Upper plumage olive brown ; lore black and yellow ; a broad white streak 
above the eye ; lower plumage white, with numerous oblong dusky spots, 
middle of the abdomen without spots ; under wing-coverts and flanks 
bright orange red ; bill dusky ; feet grey. Length eight inches, breadth 
thirteen inches. Eggs greenish blue mottled with dark brownish red 
spots. 

The Redwing (called in France Mauvis, whence an old name foi 
the Song-thrush, ' Mavis ) is the smallest of the Thrushes with 
which we are familiar. It is, like the Fieldfare, a bird of passage, 
reaching us from the north about the same time with the Wood- 
cock, in October. It resembles the Song-thrush more than any 
other bird of the family, but may readily be distinguished even at 
some distance by the hght stripe over the eye, and its bright red 
under wing-coverts. In some parts of France it is much sought 



THE FIELDFARE | 

after by the fowler, its flesh being considered by many superior to 
that of the Quail and Woodcock. It owes perhaps some of this 
unfortunate distinction to the fact of its arriving in France in time 
to fatten on grapes, for in this country it is often too lean to be 
worth cooking. Being impatient of cold, it is less abundant in the 
north of England than the south ; but even in the mild climates 
of Devon and Cornwall, where it congregates in large numbers, it 
is so much enfeebled by unusually severe weather, as to be liable to 
be hunted down by boys with sticks, and a Redwing starved to 
death used to be no unfrequent sight in the course of a winter's 
ramble. As long as the ground remains neither frozen nor snowed 
up, the open meadows may be seen ever5Avhere spotted with these 
birds, but when the earth becomes so hard as to resist their efforts 
in digging up worms and grubs, they repair to the cliffs which border 
the sea-coast, where some sunny nook is generally to be found, to 
woods in quest of berries, or to the water-courses of sheltered val- 
leys. At these times they are mostly silent, their only note, when 
they utter any, being simple and harsh ; but in France they are 
said to sing towards the end of February, and even in this country 
they have been known to perch on trees in mUd weather, and execute 
a regular song. Towards the end of AprU or beginning of May, 
they take their departure northwards, where they pass the summer, 
preferring woods and thickets in the vicinity of marshes. Mr. 
Hewitson states that whUe he was travelling through Norway ' the 
Redwing was but seldom seen, and then perched upon the summit 
of one of the highest trees, pouring forth its delightfully wUd note. 
It was always very shy, and upon seeing our approach would drop 
suddenly from its height, and disappear among the underwood. 
Its nest, which we twice found with young ones (although our unceas- 
ing endeavours to find its eggs were fruitless) , was similar to that of 
the Fieldfare. The Redwing is called the Nightingale of Norway, 
and well it deserves the name', and Turdus Iliacus because it 
frequented in such great numbers the environs of Ilion-Troy. 

THE FIELDFARE 

TURDUS PILARIS 

Head, nape, and lower part of the back dark ash colour ; upper part of the 
back and wing-coverts chestnut brown ; lore black ; a white rim above 
the eyes ; throat and breast yellowish red with oblong dark spots ; 
feathers on the flanks spotted with black and edged with white ; abdomen 
pure white without spots ; under wing-coverts white, beak brown, 
tipped with black. Length ten inches, breadth seventeen inches. 
Eggs light blue, mottled all over with dark red brown spots. 

The Fieldfare is little inferior in size to the Missel Thrush, with 
which, however, it is not likely to be confounded even at a distance, 
owing to the predominant bluish tinge of its upper plumage. In 
the west of England, where the Thrush is called the Greybird, to 



e THE FIELDFARE 

distinguish It from its ally the Blackbird, the Fieldfare Is known 
by the name of Bluebird, to distinguish it from both. It is a 
migratory bird, spending its summer, and breeding, in the north 
of Europe, and paying us an annual visit in October or November. 
But it is impatient of cold, even with us, for in winters of unusual 
severity it migrates yet farther south, and drops in upon our mea- 
dows a second time in the spring, when on its way to its summer 
quarters. Fieldfares are eminently gregarious ; not only do they 
arrive at our shores and depart from them in flocks, but they keep 
together as long as they remain, nor do they dissolve their society 
on their return to the north, but build their nests many together 
in the same wood. In this country, they are wild and cautious 
birds, resorting during open weather to watercourses and damp 
pastures, where they feed on worms and insects, and when frost 
sets in betaking themselves to bushes in quest of haws and other 
berries ; or in very severe weather resorting to the muddy or 
sandy sea-shore. They frequent also commons on which the 
Juniper abounds, the berries of this shrub affording them an abun- 
dant banquet. Unlike the Blackbird and Thrush, they rarely 
seek for food under hedges, but keep near the middle of fields, as 
■4f afraid of being molested by some concealed enemy. When 
alarmed, they either take refuge in the branches of a high tree in 
the neighbourhood, or remove altogether to a distant field. The 
song of the Fieldfare I have never heard : Toussenel doubts whether 
it has any ; Yarrell describes it as ' soft and melodious ' ; Bech- 
stein as ' a mere harsh disagreeable warble ' ; while a writer in 
the Zoologist who heard one sing during the mild January of 
1846, in Devon, describes it as ' combining the melodious whistle 
of the Blackbird with the powerful voice of the Mistle Thrush '. 
Its call-note is short and harsh, and has in France given it the 
provincial names of Tia-tia and Tchatcha. This latter name 
accords with Macgillivray's mode of spelling its note, yack chuck, 
harsh enough, no one will deny. ' Our attention was attracted 
by the harsh cries of several birds which we at first supposed must 
be Shrikes, but which afterwards proved to be Fieldfares. We 
were now delighted by the discovery of several of their nests, and 
were surprised to find them (so contrary to the habits of other 
species of the genus with which we are acquainted) breeding in 
society. Their nests were at various heights from the ground, 
from four to thirty or forty feet or upwards ; they were, for the 
most part, placed against the trunk of the Spruce Fir ; some were, 
however, at a considerable distance from it, upon the upper sur- 
face and towards the smaller end of the thicker branches : they 
resembled most nearly those of the Ring Ouzel ; the outside is 
composed of sticks and coarse grass and weeds gathered wet, 
matted with a small quantity of clay, and lined with a thick bed 
of fine dry grass : none of them yet contained more than three 



THE BLACKBIRD f 

eggs, although we afterwards found that five was more commonly 
the number than four, and that even six was very frequent ; they 
are very similar to those of the Blackbird, and even more so to 
the Ring Ouzel. The Fieldfare is the most abundant bird in Nor- 
way, and is generally diffused over that part which we visited, 
building, as already noticed, in society ; two hundred nests or 
more being frequently seen within a very small space.' Oddly 
enough two hundred was just the number of a colony of nests in 
Thiiringen on the estate of Baron von Berlepsch, wKich were those 
of Fieldfares he had induced to come by trimming the trunks of 
a long row of Black Poplar trees so as to afford good sites for the nests. 
The present editor visited these in 1906. Some few instances are 
on record of the Fieldfare breeding in this country, but these are 
exceptional. In general they leave us in April and May, though 
they have been observed as late as the beginning of June. 



THE BLACKBIRD 

TURDUS MERULA 

Male — plumage wholly black ; bill and orbits of the eyes orange yellow ; feet 
black. Female — upper plumage sooty brown ; throat pale brown with 
darker spots ; breast reddish brown passing into dark ash brown ; bill 
and legs dusky. Length ten inches ; breadth sixteen inches. Eggs 
greenish grey, spotted and speckled with light red brown. 

With his glossy coat and yeUow beak the Blackbird is a hand- 
somer bird than the Thrush ; his food is much the same : he builds 
his nest in similar places ; he is a great glutton when gooseberries 
are ripe, and his rich mellow song is highly inspiriting. But he 
is suspicious and wary ; however hard pressed he may be by hunger, 
you will rarely see him hunting for food in the open field. He 
prefers the solitude and privacy of ' the bush'. In a furze-brake, 
a coppice, a wooded water-course, or a thick hedgerow, he chooses 
his feeding ground, and allows no sort of partnership. Approach 
his haunt, and if he simply mistrusts you, he darts out flying 
close to the ground, pursues his course some twenty yards and 
dips again into the thicket, issuing most probably on the other 
side, and ceasing not until he has placed what he considers a safe 
distance between himself and his enemy. But with all his cunning 
he fails in prudence ; it is not in his nature to steal away silently. 
If he only suspects that all is not right, he utters repeatedly a low 
cluck, which seems to say, ' This is no place for me, I must be off '. 
But if he is positively alarmed, his loud vociferous cry rings out 
like a beU, informing aU whom it may concern that ' danger is at 
hand, and it behoves all who value their safety to fly '. Most 
animals understand the cry in this sense, and catch the alarm. 
Many a time has the deer-stalker been disappointed of a shot, who, 
after traversing half a mile ou his hands and knees between rocks 



PLATES TO BLACKBIRD. 

1. A nest and eggs. 

2. The young just emerged from the egg and an egg (June i). 

3. The day after hatching (June 2). 

4. Four days later (June 4). 

5. Sixth day out (June 5). 

6. Ninth day out. 

7. Eleventh day out. 

8. Fourteenth day out. 

We would draw attention to the extraordinary size of the bird just out 
as compared with the egg. On the sixth day the feather shafts with the 
tips of the encased feathers sticking out of them are quite formed, although 
two days earlier they were hardly more than indicated. On the ninth day 
feathers nearly cover the whole of the skin — on the eleventh day they do this 
completely. In No. 8 the bird was drawn after it had flown from the nest. 






*^ jCJ^"*^ 




Blackbirds Nest and Eggs 
Blackbird, Uth day. 




Just Hatched. 
Day after. 
4th Day. 



6th Day. 
9th Day. 
IlthDay. 



[face p. 8. 





Whinchat 



Stonechat $ $ 
Redstart g $ 



Black Redstart $ J 



THE BLACKBIRD 9 

and shrubs, has just before the critical moment of action started 
some ill-omened Blackbird. Out bursts the frantic alarum, heard 
at a great distance ; the intended victim catches the alarm, once 
snuffs the air to discover in what direction the foe lies concealed, 
and bounds to a place of security. A somewhat similar note, not, 
however, indicative of terror, real or imagined, is uttered when the 
bird is about to retire for the night, and this at aU seasons of the 
year. He would merit, therefore, the title of * Bellman of the woods '. 
Neither of these sounds is to be confounded with the true song of 
the Blackbird. This is a fuU, melodious, joyful carol, many of the 
notes being remarkable for their flutelike tone — ' the whistling 
of the Blackbird ' — and varying greatly in their order of repetition ; 
though I am inclined to believe that most birds of this kind have 
a favourite passage, which they repeat at intervals many times 
during the same performance. 

The song of the Blackbird does not meet the approbation of 
bird-fanciers : ' It is not destitute of melody,' says Bechstein, 

* but it is broken by noisy tones, and is agreeable only in the open 
country '. The art of teaching the Blackbird is of old date, for we 
find! in Pepys' Diary, May 22, 1663, the following passage : 

* Rendall, the house carpenter at Deptford, hath sent me a fine 
Blackbird, which I went to see. He tells me he was offered twenty 
shillings for him as he came along, he do so whistle. 23d. W?"ked 
this morning between four and five by my Blackbird, which whistled 
as well as ever I heard any ; only it is the beginning of many tunes 
very well, but then leaves them and goes no further.' ^ 

The song of the Blackbird is occasionally heard during the mild 
days of winter, but it is not until spring sets in that it can be said 
to be in full, uninterrupted song. It then repairs to some thick 
bush or hedge, especially at the corner of a pond, and builds its 
nest, a bulky structure, the framework of which is composed of 
twigs and roots ; within is a thin layer of mud lined with small 
fibrous roots, bents, and moss. The nest contains four or five 
eggs, and the young birds are fed with worms. In the breeding 
season Blackbirds are far more venturesome than at any other 
time, as they frequently select a garden in which to build their 
nest, with the double object, perhaps, of procuring plenty of worms 
for their nestlings, and of launching them when fledged where 
they will have great facilities for regaling themselves on summer 
fruits. In such localities the appearance of a cat near their nest 
greatly excites their wrath. From being timid they become 
very courageous, scolding with all their might, darting down so 
near as almost to dash in her face, and generally ending by compelling 
her to beat a retreat. 

The female Blackbird differs materially from the male, its plumage 
being of a dingy brown hue, the breast light and spotted, the beak 
dark brown with yellowish edges. White and pied specimens of 



lO THE WHEATEAR (STONE-SMATCH, 

both sexes are occasionally met with. In a district of France not 
far from Paris they are very numerous, and here the title to a certain 
estate used to be kept up by the annual presentation of a white 
Blackbird to the lord of the manor. Large flocks from the Continent 
visit us in the autumn and winter. 

THE RING OUZEL 

TURDUS TORQUATUS 

Plumage black edged with greyish white ; a large crescent-shaped pure white 

spot on the tliroat ; bill and legs dusky. Female with the gorget smaller 

and tinged with red and grey, and the rest of the plumage greyer. Length 

ten inches. Eggs greenish white, spotted with reddish brown and grey. 

Ring Ouzel is hardly an appropriate name for this bird ; for in 
reality it does not wear a ring round its neck, but a white gorget 
on its breast, the contrast between which and its black plumage 
is very striking. It frequents the mountainous parts of Scotland 
and hilly parts of Derbyshire, and other wild parts where moors 
and hills are. Though never so abundant as the Blackbird and 
Thrush are in the plains, it is far from uncommon. It is a migratory 
bird, arriving in this country in April, and returning to its southern 
v/inter quarters — Corsica and other islands of the Mediterranean 
— early in autumn ; not so early, however, as to miss the vintage 
season of the south of Europe. In summer it travels as far north 
as Sweden and Norway, where, on the authority of Mr. Hewitson, it 
is often seen ' enlivening the most bleak and desolate islands with its 
sweet song. It shares with the Redwing the name of Nightingale, and 
often delighted us in our midnight visits amongst the islands.' 
Its habits and food while it remains with us are very similar to 
those of the Blackbird, and its nest, generally built among stones 
and bushes, near the ground, is constructed of the same materials 
with the nest of that bird. Towards the end of their sojourn in 
Britain, Ring Ouzels descend to the level countries, and are not un- 
frequently met with in gardens, whither the}^ repair for the sake of 
feeding on fruit and berries. In form and movements the Ring Ouzel 
is a more elegantly shaped bird than the Blackbird. 

THE WHEATEAR (STONE-SMATCH)» 

SAXfCOLA CENANTHE 
Upper parts, in autumn reddish browr, in spring bluish grey ; wings and wing- 
coverts, centre and extremity of the tail, legs and feet, bill and area which 
comprises! the nostrils, eyes and ears, black ; base and lower portion of 
the side of the tail pure white ; the chin, forehead, stripe over the eyes, 
and under parts are also white, and in autumn the tail-feathers are also 
tipped with white. Female — upper parts ash-brown, tinged with yellow ; 
stripe over the eyes dingy ; all the colours less bright. Length six and a 
half inches ; breadth twelve inches. Eggs pale bluish green. 

During a considerable portion of its stay with us, open downs 
* Stone-smatch in Yorkshire — from the Saxon, Steinschmatzer in German. 



THE WHEATEAR (STONE-SMATCH) II 

near the sea are the favourite resort of this lively bird, to which 
it repairs from its transmarine winter quarters towards the second 
week of March. Here it may be seen for several weeks flitting from 
rock to rock, and occasionally soaring to the^height of about twenty 
yards into the air, warbling from time to time its pleasant song, 
now aloft, and now restlessly perched on a rock, or bank, or low stone 
wall, calling chack-chack — and making itself all the more welcome 
that few others among our summer visitants have as yet recovered 
their voices. We need not suppose that Wheatears prolong their stay 
on the coast in order to rest after their voyage. More probably 
they make marine insects (for these are abundant even in early 
spring) the principal portion of their food, and are taught, by the 
same instinct which guided them across the sea, to remain where 
their wants will be fully supplied until land insects have emerged 
from their winter quarters. As the season advances many of 
them proceed inland, and repair' to barren districts, whether moun- 
tainous or lowland, where they may enjoy a considerable expanse 
without any great admixture of trees. A wide common studded 
with blocks of stone, a rabbit-warren or sloping upland, is likely 
to be more or less thickly peopled by these shy birds. Shy we 
term them, because, disposed as they are to be social among them- 
selves (especially in spring and autumn), they are with respect 
to other birds most exclusive. Travelling through the waste lands 
of England, one may sometimes go on for mUes and see no winged 
creatures but an occasional Wheatear, which, with dipping flight, 
made conspicuous by the snow-white spot at the base of its tail, 
shoots ahead of us some thirty or forty yards, alights on a stone, 
and, after a few uneasy upward and downward movements of 
its taU, starts off again to repeat the same manoeuvre, until we 
begin to wonder what tempts it to stray away so far from home. 
It does not ordinarily sing during these excursions, but utters its 
occasional note, very different from its spring song. It builds 
its nest of grass, moss, and leaves, and lines it with hair or wool, 
selecting some very secret spot on the ground, a deserted rabbit- 
burrow or cavity under a rock, where, beyond the reach of any 
but the most cunning marauder, it lays five or six eggs. Early in 
August, when the young are fuUy fledged, the scattered colonies 
of Wheatears assemble for emigration on open downs near the 
sea. We have seen a good many of them on the sandy coast of 
Norfolk and of North Hales ; but it is on the extensive downs of 
Sussex that they collect in the largest numbers, not in flocks, but 
in parties of six or eight ; each party perhaps constituting a family. 
They here retain their shy habits of flying off at the approach of 
a human being, and are often seen to drop suddenly, where they 
may remain concealed from sight behind a stone, furze-bush or 
bank. The shepherds and others, whose vocation lies on the 
downs, used to take advantage of the habit of these birds to con- 



IS THE WHINCHAT 

ceal themselves, and construct a multitude ©f simple but efficacious 
traps in which they capture large numbers. The method which 
they adopted was to cut out from the sward an oblong piece of 
turf about the size of a brick, which they inverted over the hole 
from which it was taken so as to form a cross. Beneath this are 
placed two running nooses of horsehair, in which the poor bird, when 
it takes refuge in one of the open ends of the hole for concealment, 
is easily snared. The birds being in fine condition at this season — 
having, in fact, fattened themselves previously to undertaking 
their long sea voyage — are highly prized as a dainty article of 
food. It was formerly the custom for persons who wanted a dish 
of Wheatears to supply themselves from the traps, placing a penny 
in every hole from which they took a bird ; but afterwards the influx 
of visitors to the neighbouring watering-places so much enhanced 
their value, that the shepherds allowed no such interference. We 
once tried the experiment of releasing a bird and depositing the 
penny-piece in the trap, when, from a neighbouring eminence, we 
were assailed with such a torrent of abuse, that we declined repeat- 
ing the experiment. In September, aU who have escaped the 
sportsman and fowler wing their way to southern lands. It is 
thought that the autumnal flocks are partially composed of birds 
on their way from high latitudes, which stop to recruit their strength 
on the South-downs previous to final emigration. 

THE WHINCHAT 

PrATINCOLA RUBfeTRA 

Upper plumage dusky brown, edged with reddish yellow ; over the eye a broad 
white streak ; throat and sides of the neck white ; neck and breast bright 
yellowish red ; a large white spot on the wings and base of the tail ; 
extremity of the latter and the whole of the two central feathers dusky 
brown ; abdomen and flanks yellowish white. Female — yellowish white 
wherever the male is pure white ; the white spot on the wings smaller ; 
the red parts dingy. Length five inches ; breadth nine inches. Eggs 
bluish green, often minutely speckled with light brownish red. 

A GREAT deal that we have said of the Stonechat, will apply equally 
to the Whinchat, as the two birds much resemble each other in 
character, size, and habits. There is this difference, however, 
between them, that a considerable number of Stonechats remain 
in Britain during the winter, whereas the Whinchats, almost to 
a bird, leave our shores in the autumn. The latter is by no means 
so common, and is rarely seen except in wild places where the shrub is 
abundant from which it derives its name of Whinchat, or Furzechat. 
For a small bird to have black legs is, it seems, considered in France 
an indication of peculiar delicacy of flesh. Both of these birds, 
therefore, notwithstanding their diminutive size, are much sought 
after for the table. Both aie of restless habits, delighting to perch 
on the summit of a furze-bush, where they keep the tail in constant 



THE STONECHAT 13 

motion, occasionally spring into the air after an insect, and then 
dart of! with a dipping flight to another post of advantage. They 
repeat the call of ii-tick ! and their short and simple song, both 
while at rest and on the wing ; but they are not musical, and 
* their flesh is generally more esteemed than their song.' The 
Whinchat may be distinguished at a considerable distance by 
the white streak over the eye. Both nest and eggs of the two species 
are very similar. 

THE STONECHAT 
PratIncola RUBfcOLA 

Head, throat, bill and legs, black ; sides of the neck near the wing, tertial 
wing-coverts and rump, white ; breast bright chestnut-red, shaded into 
yellowish white towards the tail ; feathers of the back, wings and tail, 
black, with reddish brown edges. Female — feathers of the head and 
upper parts dusky brown, edged with yellowish red ; throat black, with 
small whitish and reddish spots ; less white in the wings and tail ; the 
red of the breast dull. Length five and a quarter inches ; breadth eight 
and a half inches. Eggs pale blue, the larger end often faintly speckled 
with reddish brown. 

We can scarcely pass through a furze-brake during the spring 
and summer months, without having the presence of the Stonechat 
almost forced on our notice. I am acquainted with no small bird 
whose habits are more marked, or more easily observed. Not 
even does the Skylark build its nest more invariably on the ground, 
and ' soaring sings, and singing soars ', than does the Stonechat 
build its nest in a furze-bush, and perch on the topmost twigs of 
shrubs. In the breeding season, too, it seems not to wander far 
from its home : we know therefore where a pair are to be found at 
any time ; and they allow us to approach so close to them, that we 
can readily distinguish them by the tints of their plumage. 

The nest of the pair may be within a few yards of the spot 
on which we are standing ; but the exact locality no one knows, 
nor is likely to know but itself. The male is a beautiful creature, 
with a black head, red breast, and several patches of pure white 
on its wings, the female much more sober in her attire. Their 
purpose is evidently to distract our attention from their nest. 
One is clinging to the top of a Juniper, where he fidgets about 
uttering his twit-click-click, which you can easily imitate by whist- 
ling once sharply and knocking two stones together twice in rapid 
succession. The other is perched on the top spine of a furze-bush 
— they are aspiring birds and must settle on the top of whatever 
they alight on, be it only a dock. Now one dips down and is lost 
for a few seconds, to appear again, however, directly on the summit 
of another bush ; now they are on our right hand, now on our 
left ; now before us, and then behind. Are they describing a 
circle round their nest for a centre, or are they trying to trick us 



14 THE REDSTART 

into the belief that they are better worth caring for than their 
young ones, and may be caught if we will only be siUy enough to 
chase them ? I do not know ; but whatever their thoughts may 
be, life certainly are in them, and as certainly they are not delighted 
at our presence. We walk on, and suddenly they are gone ; but 
presently we encounter another pair of the same birds, who if 
we loiter about will treat us in exactly the same way, but, if we 
pciss on steadily, will take httle notice of us. 

We have little more to say of the Stonechat. It is not often 
heard to sing ; the reason probably being that, when listeners are 
in the way, it is too anxious about its nest to be musical. Its 
food is principally insects, which it often catches on the wing. 
In winter (for they do not all leave us at this season) it feeds on 
worms, etc. Its nest is remarkable more from its size and position 
(usually in the centre of a furze-bush), than for neatness of structure. 
It lays five eggs. Its name Rubicola denotes a dweller among 
brambles, and is by no means inappropriate, as it rarely perches 
on any bush exceeding a bramble in size. Its names Stonechat, 
Stoneclink or Stonechatter, are evidently to be traced to the similarity 
between its note of alarm and the striking together of two pebbles. 



THE REDSTART 

RUTICILLA PHCENICURA 

Forehead white ; throat black ; head and upper part of the back bluish grey } 
breast, tail-coverts and tail (except the two central feathers, which are 
brown), bright rust-red ; second primary equal to the sixth. Female — 
upper partv grey, tinged with red ; larger wing-coverts edged with 
yellowish red ; throat and abdomen whitish ; breast, flanks, and under 
tail-coverts, pale red. Length, five inches and a quarter. Eggs uniform 
blue. 

Although of no great size this summer visitor is pretty sure to 
attract attention by its peculiar colouring ; its red tail and white 
crown being sufficient to distinguish it from every other British 
bird. It is familiar, too, in its habits, commonly resorting to gardens, 
and searching for its favourite food, worms and insects, on the 
lawn, and in orchards. It is local rather than rare, for while there 
are some places to which it regularly resorts every year, there are 
others in which it is never seen. Redstarts arrive in this country 
about the end of April, and soon set about the work of building 
their nest. This they generally place in a hole in a wall or hoUow 
of a tree, but sometimes by the mossy stump or amongst the exposed 
roots of a tree. Occasionally they select a quaint domicile, a garden 
pot, for example, left bottom upwards, or a sea-kale bed. A still 
stranger instance is that of a pair of Redstarts, who, themselves or 
their descendants, were for twenty years located in the box of a wooden 
pump. On one occasion, the pump being out of order, the owner 



THE REDSTART IS 

employed workmen to repair it. This proceeding offended the 
birds, who deserted it for three years, and then, forgetting or for< 
giving the intrusion, returned to their unquiet home. Another 
pair constructed their nest for ten successive years in the interior 
of an earthenware fountain placed in the middle of a garden. But 
though not averse to the haunts of men, the Redstart shows much 
anxiety when its nest is approached, flitting about restlessly and 
uttering a plaintive cry. I happened once to be walking in a friend's 
garden, and heard what I supposed to be the chirping of two birds 
proceed from a large apple-tree close by. As the notes were not 
familiar to me, I went round the tree several times in order to 
discover whence they proceeded. One of the notes was like the 
noise which may be made by striking two pebbles together, the 
other a querulous chirp, and they seemed to come from different 
parts of the tree. The author of the music, however, allowed 
me several times to come very near him, and I satisfied myself 
that both sounds proceeded from the same bird, a male Redstart, 
whose nest, I afterwards heard, was built in an adjoining shed. 
This singular power of ventriloquizing, or making its note 
apparently proceed from a distant place, is possessed also by the 
Nightingale, as any one may assure himself who will quietly creep 
up to within a few yards of one of these birds when singing. 
The song of the Red-start is short but pleasing, and it is 
emitted both while the bird is at rest and on the wing, princi- 
pally in the morning, and only during two months of the year. 
Its food consists of smaU worms and insects, which last it is 
very expert at catching on the wing ; and in summer, it regales 
itself on the soft fruits. Its nest is composed of fibrous roots 
and moss, and is lined with hair, wool and feathers. It lays 
about six eggs, which closely resemble those of the Hedge- 
sparrow, only that they are smaller. In autumn, the Redstarts 
retire southwards. On the African shores of the Mediterranean 
they are very abundant, and are caught by the Arabs in traps 
of the sunplest construction. On the continent of Europe, 
notably in Italy, in spite of their diminutive size, they are 
highly prized for food. The number of Redstarts (both kinds), 
Redbreasts Fly-catchers and Nightingales taken in traps is incon- 
ceivable. These birds being of about the same size, and equally excel- 
lent in dehcacy of flesh, are sold together in all the market towns and 
are sent to the great cities. Thousands of dozens are thus annu- 
ally despatched ; but this number is as nothing compared with 
that consumed on the spot. In France Bird Protection has done 
much to stop this cruel traffic. In the schools there the boys 
and girls are now being taught to know and to care for the wild 
life about them more than in our EngUsh Council Schools. 



I« THE REDBREAST, OR ROBIN 

THE BLACK REDSTART 

RUTICILLA TITYS 

Upper plumage bluish grey ; bill, cheeks, throat, and breeist, black, passing 
into bluish beneath ; tail as in the last ; greater wing-coverts edged with 
pure white ; second primary equal to the seventh. Female — upper 
plumage duller ; lower bright ash, passing into white ; wings dusky, 
edged with grey ; red of the tail less bright. Length, five inches and 
three quarters. Eggs pure shining white. 

A MUCH less frequent visitor to this country than the preceding, 
but by no means ranking among our rarest birds, specimens occur- 
ring in the winter of every year in some part of England or another, 
especially in Devon and Cornwall. Its habits are much the same 
as those of its congener ; but it generally chooses a loftier situation 
for its nest, which is placed in the walls of buildings, at an eleva- 
tion varying from a few feet to eighty or ninety. Its plumage 
differs in being much darker in the fore part of the body, while the 
tail is of a brighter red. The eggs are white. It generally arrives 
in England about the first week in November, and remains with us 
all the winter. Its nest has never been found in this country. 

THE REDBREAST, OR ROBIN 

ERfXHACUS RUBECULA 

Upper parts bro^vnish grey tinged with olive ; forehead, lore, and breast red, 
the red edged with ash-grey ; abdomen white. Female like the male, 
except that the upper parts are ash-brown, the red less bright, and the 
grey surrounding it le.ss conspicuous. Length, five inches and three 
quarters. Eggs yellowish white, spotted with light reddish brown. 

The Redbreast is everywhere invested with a kind of sanctity 
beyond all other birds. Its wonted habit of making its appearance, 
no one knows whence, to greet the resting traveller in places the 
most lonely — its evident predilection for the society of the out-of- 
door labourer, whatever his occupation — the constancy with which 
it affects human habitations — and the readiness with which, with- 
out coaxing, or taming, or training, it throws itself on human 
hospitality — engender an idea that there must be some mysterious 
connexion between the two — that if there were no men, there 
would be no Redbreasts. Trust on one side engenders confidence 
on the other, and mutual attachment is the natural result. There 
is something, too, beyond the power of explanation in the fact 
that the Robin is the only bird wliich frequents from choice the 
homes of men. 

The habits of the Redbreast are so weU known, that to describe 
them would be simply to write down what every one has seen or 
may see. 

It generally builds its nest in a hole, near the bottom of a hedge 
or under the stump of a tree, in an ivy-clad wall, or amidst the 







ledgesparrow^ 



"Wheatear 5 ^ 
Nightingale 



Robin ^- 16. 






Whitethroat 3 $ 

Garden Warbler ? 



Lesser "Whitcthroat c 
Blackcap (? 



THE NIGHTINGALE ly 

creepers trained round the veranda of a cottage. I have seen it 
also placed in a niche in a wall intended for the reception of a vase, 
in a bee-hive stored away on the rafters of an outhouse, and under 
a wisp of straw accidentally left on the ground in a garden. It is 
usually composed of dry leaves, roots, bents, and moss, lined with 
hair and wool, and contains five or six eggs. The young birds are 
of a brown tint, and have the feathers tipped with yellow, which 
gives them a spotted appearance. Until they acquire the red breast, 
they are very unlike the parents, and might be mistaken for young 
Thrushes, except that they are much smaller. They may be often 
observed in gardens for many days after they have left the nest, 
keeping together, perching in the bushes, and clamorous for food, 
which the old birds bring to them from time to time. It is said, 
that only one brood is reared in a year, but this I am inclined 
to doubt, having observed in the same locality families of young 
birds early in the spring, and late in the summer of the same year. 
Towards the end of August, the young birds acquire the distinctive 
plumage of their species, and are solitary in their habits until the 
succeecUng spring. The call-notes of the Redbreast are numerous, 
and vary beyond the power of description in written words ; the song 
is loud, and it is needless to say, pleasing, and possesses the charm 
of being continued when all our other feathered songsters are mute. 
The red of the breast often has a brighter tint, it is occasionally 
almost a carmine red. The late Lord LHford told the editor such 
were often birds that had been bred on the Continent. Numbers 
of young birds come across the sea to us each autumn. 

THE NIGHTINGALE 

DAULIAS LUSCfNIA 

Upper plumage russet brown ; tail bright rust-red ; under plumage buffish 
white ; flanks pale ash colour. Length six and a quarter inches ; 
breadth nine and a half inches. Eggs uniform olive-brown. 

The southern, eastern, and some of the midland counties of Eng- 
land, enjoy a privilege which is denied to the northern and western 
— an annual visit, namely, from the Nightingale. It is easy enough 
to understand why a southern bird should bound its travels north- 
wards by a certain parallel, but why it should keep aloof from 
Devon and Cornwall, the climate of which approaches more closely 
to that of its favourite continental haunts than many of the districts 
to which it unfailingly resorts, is not so clear. Several reasons 
have been assigned — one, that cowslips do not grow in these coun- 
ties ; tliis may be dismissed at once as purely fanciful ; another 
is, that the soil is too rocky : this is not founded on fact, for both 
Devon and Cornwall abound in localities which would be to Nightin- 
gales a perfect Paradise, if they would only come ; a third is, that 
the proper food is not to be found there : but this reason cannot 



rS THE NIGHTINGALE 

be admitted until it Is proved that the portions of the island to 
which the Nightingale does resort abound in some kind of insect 
food which is not to be found in the extreme southern counties, 
and that the Nightingale, instead of being, as it is supposed, a 
general insect-eater, confines itself to that one ; and this is a view 
of the question which no one has ventured to take. My own 
theory — and I only throw it out for consideration — is that the Night- 
ingale is not found in these two counties on account of their 
pecuhar geographical position. The continental Nightingales are 
observed to take their departure in autumn, either eastward through 
Hungary, Dalmatia, Greece, and the islands of the Archipelago ; 
or southwards across the Straits of Gibraltar, but none by the broad 
part of the Mediterranean. Hence we may infer that the bird 
dislikes a long sea voyage, and that when in spring it migrates 
northward and westward, it crosses the English Channel at the 
nan-owest parts only,^ spreads itself over the nearest counties in 
the direction of its migration, but is instinctively prevented from 
turning so far back again to the south as the south-west peninsula 
of England. From Scotland it would be naturally excluded by 
its northern position, and from Ireland by the Welsh mountains 
and the broad sea. 

For the dwellers in these unfavoured districts alone is my de- 
scription of the Nightingale intended ; for, where it abounds, its 
habits are too well known to need any description. Twenty-four 
hours of genial May weather spent in the country with a good use 
of the eyes and ears, will reveal more of the life and habits of the 
bird than is contained in all the ornithological treatises that have 
been written on the subject, and they are not a few. 

No great amount of caution is necessary in approaching the 
Nightingale while singing at night. One may walk unrestrainedly 
across the fields, talking in an ordinary tone of voice, and not even 
find it necessary to suppress conversation when close to a singing 
bird. Either he is too intent on his occupation to detect the presence 
of strangers, or he is aware of the security in which he is wrapped 
by the shades of night, or he is actually proud of having listeners. 
In the neighbourhood of my present residence in Hertfordshire, 
Nightingales are mmierous. They arrive about the seventeenth of 
April, and for the first few days assemble year after year in the 
bushes and hedges of a certain hillside, the position of which it would 
be unsafe to indicate particularly, and taking their station two or three 
hundred yards apart from each other, set up a rivalry of song which 
is surpassingly beautiful. At this season, one may hear five or six 
chanting at once ; every break in the song of the nearest being filled 
up by the pipings or wailings of the more distant ones. The male 
birds arrive several days before the female, and employ the interval, 

* This is the opinion of Gilbert WTiite. 



THE NIGHTINGALE 19 

It is fancifully said, in contending for the prize in a musical contest. 
This period is anxiously watched for by bird-catchers, who have 
learnt by experience that birds entrapped before they have paired 
will bear confinement in a cage, but that those captured after the 
arrival of their mates pine to death. The Nightingale being a 
fearless bird and of an inquisitive nature is easily snared ; hence, 
in the neighbourhood of cities, the earliest and therefore strongest 
birds fall ready victims to the fowler's art. 

It must not be supposed that this bird sings by night only. Every 
day and all day long, from his first arrival until the young are hatched 
(when it becomes his duty to provide for his family), perched in a 
hedge or on the branch of a tree, rarely at any considerable height 
from the ground, he pours forth his roundelay, now, however, obscured 
by the song of other birds. But not even by day is he shy, for he 
will allow any quietly disposed person to approach near enough 
to him to watch the movement of his bill and heaving chest. At 
the approach of night he becomes silent, generally discontinuing 
his song about an hour before the Thrush, and resuming it between 
ten and eleven. It is a disputed point whether the Nightingale's 
song should be considered joyous or melancholy. This must 
always remain a question of taste. My own opinion is, that the 
piteous wailing note which is its most characteristic nature, casts a 
shade of sadness as it were over the whole song, even those portions 
which gush with the most exuberant gladness. I think., too, though 
my assertion may seem a barbarous one, that if the Nightingale's 
song comprised the wailing notes alone, it would be universally 
shunned as the most painfully melancholy sound in nature. From 
this, however, it is redeemed by the rapid transition, just when the 
anguish of the bird has arrived at such a pitch as to be no longer 
supportable, to a passage overflowing with joy and gladness. In the 
first or second week of June he ceases his song altogether. His 
cataract of sweet sounds is exhausted, and his only remaining note 
is a harsh croak exactly resembhng that of a frog, or the subdued 
note of a (raven, wate-wate or cur-ciir. On one occasion only I 
have heard him in full song so late as the fourth week in June : 
but this probably was a bird whose first nest had been destroyed, 
and whose song consequently had been retarded until the hatching 
of a second brood. From this time until the end of August, when 
he migrates eastward, he may often be observed picking up grubs, 
worms, and ants' eggs on the garden lawn, or under a hedge in 
fields, hopping from place to place with an occasional shake of the 
wings and raising of the tail, and conspicuous whenever he takes one 
of his short flights by his chestnut brown tail-coverts. 

The Nightingale's nest is constructed of dead leaves, principally 
of the oak, loosely put together and placed on the ground under 
a bush. Internally it is lined with grass, roots, and a few hairs. 
It contains four or five eggs of a uniform olive-brown. 



THE HEDGE SPARROW 



Sub-Family ACCENTORIN^ 
THE HEDGE SPARROW 

ACCENTOR MODULArIS 

Crown of the head ash colour, with brown streaks ; sides of the neck, throat, 
and breast, bluish grey , bill strong and broad at base ; wing-coverts 
and feathers on the back reddish brown, with a tawny spot in the centre ; 
middle wing-coverts tipped with yellowish white ; lower tail-coverts 
brown, with a whitish border ; middle of abdomen white. Length five and 
a half inches. Eggs greenish blue, without spots. 

Inveterate custom has so attached the name of Hedge Sparrow 
to this bird, that in spite of all the efforts of ornithologists to con- 
vince the world that it is no sparrow at all (a hard-beaked, grain- 
eating bird), but a true warbler, it is still more frequently called by 
its popular name than by any of those that have been suggested. 
The gentle, innocent, confiding, little brown bird, which creeps 
like a mouse through our garden flower-beds, picks up a meagre 
fare in our roads and lanes, builds its nest in our thorn hedges, and 
though dingy itself, lays such brilliant blue eggs, has been known 
to us from our infancy as a ' Hedge Sparrow ', and we decHne 
any innovation : the name is a time-honoured one, and no one 
will mistake us. Hedge Accentor, Hedge Warbler, and Shuffle- 
wing, are names open to those who prefer them, but we adhere 
to the old-fashioned designation of Hedge Sparrow. This bird 
is a genuine Warbler, and one of the few belonging to the 
tribe who remain with us aU the winter ; we should suppose, 
indeed, that he never wandered far from the place of his birth. 
At all seasons his habits and food appear to be the same. AU 
day long he is shuffling about on the ground picking up minute 
atoms, whether seeds or insects, who knows ? Every day, nearly 
all the year round, he repairs at intervals to the nearest hedge, 
where he sings a song, soft and gentle like himself ; and every even- 
ing, when the Blackbird rings his curfew bell, he fails not to respond 
with his drowsy cheep, cheep, as he repairs to the bush he has 
selected for his night's rest. Very early in spring, before his brother 
warblers have arrived from the south, he has chosen his mate, 
built his snug nest, and too probably commenced a second ; for 
unsuspicious in nature, he does not retire to solitary places for this 
purpose, and the leafless hedges but ill conceal liis labours from the 
peering eyes of all-destroying ploughboys. Such are nearly all his 
" short and simple annals". He quarrels with no one, he achieves 
no distinction, throwing no one into ecstasies with his song, and steal- 
ing no one's fruit ; unobtrusive and innocent, he claims no notice, 
and dreads no resentment ; and so, through all the even tenor of 
his way, he is, without knowing it, the favourite of children, and 
of all the good and gentle. 



THE WHITETHROAT '91 

Sub-Family SYLVIINiE 
THE WHITETHROAT 

SYLVIA CINtREA 

(lead ash-grey ; rest of the upper parts grey, tinged with rust colour ; wings 
dusky, the coverts edged with red ; lower parts white, faintly tinged on 
the breast with rose colour ; tail dark brown, the outer feather white at 
the tip and on the outer web, the next only tipped with white. Female 
without the rose tint on the breast, but with the upper plumage more 
decidedly tinged with red ; feet brown. Length five inches and a half ; 
breadth eight and a half. Eggs greenish white, thickly spotted with 
reddish and greenish brown. Young, leaving nest, differ very little from 
adult birds. 

The Whitethroat is in England the most common of all the migratory 
warblers, and is generally diffused. It is essentially a hedge-bird, 
neither taking long flights nor resorting to lofty trees. Early in 
May it may be detected in a hawthorn or other thick bush, hopping 
from twig to twig with untiring restlessness, frequently descending 
to the ground, but never making any stay, and all the while inces- 
santly babbling with a somewhat harsh but not unpleasant song, 
composed of numerous rapid and short notes, which have but 
little either of variety or compass. Occasionally it takes a short 
flight along the hedge, generally on the side farthest from the 
spectator, and proceeds to another bush a few yards on, where it 
either repeats the same movements, or perches on a high twig for 
a few seconds. From time to time it rises into the air, performing 
curious antics and singing all the while. Its short flight completed, 
it descends to the same or an adjoining twig ; and so it seems to 
spend its days. From its habit of creeping through the lower parts 
of hedges, it has received the popular name of ' Nettle-creeper '. 
From the grey tone of its plumage, it is in some districts of France 
called ' Grisette', and in others, from its continuous song, ' Babil- 
larde', names, however, which are popularly applied without distinc- 
tion to this species and the next. While singing it keeps the feathers 
of its head erected, resembling in this respect the Blackcap and 
several of the other warblers. Though not naturally a nocturnal 
musician, it does not, like most other birds, when disturbed at 
night, quietly steal away to another place of shelter, but bursts 
into repeated snatches of song, into which there seems to be infused 
a spice of anger against the intruder.^ Its food consists of insects 
of various kinds ; but when the smaller fruits begin to ripen, it 
repairs with its young brood to our gardens, and makes no small 
havoc among raspberries, currants, and cherries. It constructs 
its nest among brambles and nettles, raised from two to tliree feet 
from the ground, of bents and the dry stems of herbs, mixed with 
cobweb, cotton from the wUlow, bits of wool, and horsehair. It 
usually lays five eggs. 

* This night song is rarclv heard except in the months of May and June. 



SS THE LESSER WHITETHROAT 

THE LESSER WHITETHROAT 

SVLVIA CURRtJCA 
Head and lore dark ash-grey ; rest of the upper parts greyish ash, tine;ed 
with brown ; wings brown, edged with ash-grey ; tail dusky, outer 
feather as in the last, the two next tipped with white ; lower parts pure 
silvery white ; feet deep lead colour. Length five inches and a quarter. 
Eggs greenish white, spotted and speckled, especially at the larger end, 
with ash and brown. 

Gilbert White in his charming history says, " A rare, and I think 
a new little bird frequents my garden, which I have very great 
reason to think is the Pettichaps ; it is common in some parts of 
the kingdom ; and I have received formerly dead specimens from 
Gibraltar. This bird much resembles the Whitethroat, but has a 
more white, or rather silvery breast and belly ; is restless and active, 
like the Willow-wrens, and hops from bough to bough, examining 
every part for food ; it also runs up the stems of the crown-im- 
perials, and, putting its head into the bells of those flowers, sips the 
liquor which stands in the nectarium of each petal. Sometimes 
it feeds on the ground like the Hedge-Sparrow, by hopping about 
on the grass plots and mown walks." The little bird of which the 
amiable naturalist gives so interesting a description, was, there is 
little doubt, that which is now Ccilled the Lesser Whitethroat, 
then a ' new bird ', inasmuch as it had not been made a distinct 
species, and necessarily a ' rare bird', not because a few only visited 
Britain, but because, until his time set the example, competent 
observers of birds were rare. It differs externally from the preced- 
ing, in its smaller size, and the darker colour of its beak, upper 
plumage, and feet, and resembles it closely in its habits, though I 
have never observed that it indulges in the eccentric perpendicular 
flights, which have gained for its congener, the Greater Whitethroat, 
the quaint sobriquet of ' singing skyrocket.' It feeds, too, on 
insects, and is not found wanting when raspberries and cherries 
are ripe. But no matter what number of these it consumes, it 
ought with its companions to be welcomed by the gardener as one 
of his most valuable friends. For it should be borne in mind, that 
these birds, by consuming a portion of a crop of ripe fruit, do not 
at all injure the trees, but that the countless aphides and cater- 
pillars which they devoured at an earlier period of the year, would, 
if they had been allowed to remain, have feasted on the leaves and 
young shoots, and so not only have imperilled the coming crop, 
but damaged the tree so materially as to impair its fertility for some 
time to come. Those birds, therefore, which in spring feed on insects 
and nourish their young on the same diet, may be considered as 
necessary to protect from injury the trees which are destined to 
supply them with support when insect food becomes scarce. Con- 
sider what would be the result if the proper food of birds were 
leaves, or if insects were permitted to devour the foliage unchecked 1 
our woods would be leafless, our gardens would become deserts. 



THE BLACKCAP aj 

THE GARDEN WARBLER 

SYLVIA HORTENSIS 

Upper parts greyish brown, slightly tinged with olive ; orbits white ; below 
the ear a patch of ash-grey ; throat dull white ; breast and flanks grey, 
tinged with rust colour ; rest of the under parts dull white. Length five 
inches and three-quarters ; breadth eight and a half. Eggs greenish 
white, speckled with two shades of greenish brown. 

Though tolerably well dispersed throughout England, this bird 
is by no means so abundant as the Blackcap, which it resembles 
in size and habits, but it arrives later, coming early in May. It 
is very local. Its song is little if at all inferior to that of the bird 
just named, and it is far from improbable that some of the sweet 
strains for which the Blackcap gets credit, particularly late in the 
summer, may be produced by the Garden Warbler ; I have heard its 
song so late as the fifth of October. By some authors it is called the 
Greater Pettychaps, by others the Fauvette, which latter name is 
by some French ornithologists applied to the group containing this 
bird and several allied species. Its nest and eggs are so like those 
of the Blackcap as to be discriminated with difficulty. 



THE BLACKCAP 

SYLVIA ATRICAPILLA 

Top and back of the head black, in the female chocolate colour ; upper parts, 
wings, and tail ash-grey, slightly tinged with olive ; neck light grey 
passing into greyish white ; bill and feet black. Length five inches and 
a half ; breadth eight and a half. Eggs pale greenish white, variously 
mottled with several shades of brown ; sometimes pinkish, mottled with 
light purple, and speckled with dark purple. 

Whatever difference of opinion there may be as to the character 
of the Nightingale's song — whether it partakes more of joyousness 
or of melancholy — the gladsomeness of the Blackcap's warble is 
beyond all dispute. Conceding to the Nightingale the first place 
among the warblers which visit England, we do not hesitate to 
claim the second for the Blackcap. Its song is inferior in power 
and compass to that of the bird of night, but there is about it a 
delicious eloquence which makes it irresistibly charming. White 
of Selbome describes it as " fuU, sweet, deep, loud and wild " ; high 
but not unmerited praise. If there are no vocal efforts to astonish, 
there are no piteous wailings to distress, and though the bird retires 
to rest at a reasonable hour, it continues its song until a late period 
of the season, long after that of the Nightingale has degenerated 
to a croak. It has been compared to that of the Redbreast, but 
it is more mellow and flute-Uke ; to that of the Thrush, but it is 
softer and of more compass ; to that of the Lark, but it is more 
varied. A practised ear will confound it with neither of these, though, 



u 



THE BLACKCAP 



strange to say, many persons who have lived all their lives In the 
country and who take much interest in its pleasant sights and 
sounds, habitually confound it with the song of one or other of 
these birds, not knowing to whom they are indebted for one of the 
principal charms of their gardens. The Blackcap, like several 
other of the migratory warblers, returns again and again to its old 
haunts. For six successive years it has been known to buUd its 
nest in a bramble which hung down from a rock in a public garden ; 
and for even a longer period my own garden has been annually 
visited by a pair who, from unfailingly resorting to the same bushes, 
must, I have little doubt, be the same pair, though I cannot say 
that I have found or even searched for their nest. On its first 
arrival in April, the Blackcap is in the habit of what bird-fanciers 
call ' recording ' — that is, practising over its song in a low tone. 
During this season of rehearsal it does not care to be seen, but 
hides away in a thick bush. It is nevertheless by no means shy 
of being heard, as it wiU allow the listener to approach within a few 
yards of its hiding-place without stopping its song, and if disturbed 
will remove to a very little distance and recommence. After a few 
days it acquires its full powers of voice. 

Its song is now remarkable among the fuU choir for sweetness, 
loudness, and long continuance. Its food at this time consists of 
aphides, caterpillars, and other small insects which infest roses 
and fruit-trees ; it rarely captures flies on the wing or descends 
to feed on the ground. In June it begins to sing shorter strains, 
but with no diminished power. It may then be observed flying 
from branch to branch of an apple-tree, resting for a few seconds 
only in the same spot, and busily occupied in collecting grubs or 
aphides, then indulging in a short strain. In July, when the rasp- 
berries ripen, the Blackcap becomes chary of its song, and introduces 
its young brood to the choicest and juiciest fruit ; in their attentions 
to which both old and young birds are exceedingly pertinacious, 
holding scarecrows in extreme contempt, and heeding clapping 
of hands or the discharge of a gun as little. The young of the first 
year resemble the adult female in having a chocolate-coloured crown. 
The song of the Blackcap may be heard occasionally late in the 
summer ; in September or October both old and young take their 
departure, and the Redbreast is left without a rival to assert his 
superiority as a warbler, until the return of spring. The nest is 
usually placed in a hedge or low bush, a few feet from the ground, 
and is constructed of bents, and lined with fibrous roots and hair. 
The male bird assists the female in performing the office of incuba- 
tion, and is said to relieve the monotony of his occupation by singing, 
thus often betraying a weU-concealed nest. 



THE REED WARBLER »$ 

THE DARTFORD WARBLER 

SYLVIA UNDATA 

Upper parts blackish brown ; under, purplish red ; middle of the abdomen 
white ; tail long, dark brown, the outer feather tipped with white ; 
wings very short ; quills ash-grey on the inner web, dark brown on the 
outer ; feet yellowish ; bill yellowish white, with a black tip. Length 
five inches and a half. Eggs greenish white, speckled all over, and 
especially at the larger end, with brown and ash-grey. 

This species received its name from having been first shot on Bexley 
Heath, near Dartford in 1773. It has since been observed on 
furzy commons in several of the southern and western counties, 
but is local and nowhere abundant. In its habits it resembles 
the Stone and Furze Chats, perching on the upper sprays of the 
furze and whitehom, but never still for a minute, throwing itself into 
various attitudes, erecting its crest and tail at intervals, frequently 
rising into the air with most fantastic movements, catching 
insects on the wing, and either returning to the same twig, or making 
a short flight to some other convenient bush. The syllables 
* cha cha cha ' are several times repeated when the bird is irritated. 
Its note is commonly Pitchou, hence its French name. It keeps 
quite aloof from human habitations, and is so timid that on the 
approach of an observer, it creeps into a bush, and remains con- 
ceded until the danger is past. The nest of goose grass and soft 
bits of furze, wool and moss is placed in the fork of a furze-bush 
selected for its thickness and difficulty of access. It is somewhat 
wandering, but may be called a resident in the South, gradually 
extending northwards. Many specimens have been observed in 
mid-winter, and Rennie states that he has seen one as early as the 
end of February hovering over furze and singing like a Whitethroat. 



THE REED WARBLER 

ACROCEPHALUS STREPERUS 

Upper parts of a uniform reddish brown, without spots ; wing-feathers brown, 
edged with olive ; a white streak between (not over) the eye and bill ; 
throat white ; under plumage yellowish white, the sides tinged with 
reddish ; tail long, rounded. Length five and a half inches ; breadth 
seven and a half. Eggs dull greenish white, speckled with olive and 
Ught brown, especially towards the larger end. 

Both the Sedge and the Reed warblers are jaseuses, or chatterers, with 
rounded tails ; but the Sedge Warbler has its upper plumage 
spotted with dark brown, and a white line above its eye, while 
the upper plumage of the Reed Warbler is of a uniform pale brown, 
and the light mark is absent from above the eye. The haunts and 
habits of the two birds are precisely similar, but the Reed Warbler 
is by far the less common of the two ; for while the Sedge Warbler 
is sure to be found wherever the Reed Warbler has been observed, 



36 THE REED WARBLER 

the converse by no means follows. The parts of England in which 
it appears to be most frequent, are East Riding of Yorkshire, Essex, 
SiiiTey, Kent, Suffolk, and Norfolk. In the reed-beds on the banks 
of the Thames, between Erith and Greenwich, it is common. 

" The nest of the Reed Warbler is often elegantly built, and 
generally fixed to three or four reed-stems. It is composed of 
slender blades of grass, interwoven with reed-tops, dry duckweed, 
and the spongy substance which covers many of the marsh ditches ; 
and, here and there, a long piece of sedge is wound securely around 
it ; the lining is of the finer flowering stems of grass, intermixed 
with a little horsehair. It is a deep and solid structure, so that 
the eggs cannot easily roll out ; it is firmly fastened to the reeds 
in tidal ditches and rivers, at the height of three or four feet from 
the water, but in stni ditches often not more than a foot. In windy 
weather, when wading through the reed-beds, I have seen nests, 
with both old and young in them, blown nearly to the surface of 
the water ; but the birds fix their claws firmly to the sides of the 
nest, with their heads to windward, and thus ride as securely in 
their cradle as a saUor does in his cot or hammock." ^ The Cuckoo 
occasionally chooses the Reed Warbler's nest to lay its eggs in, for 
the same writer remarks — " At the latter end of July, 1829, while 
reading in my garden, which adjoins a market garden, I was agree- 
ably surprised to see a young Cuckoo, nearly full-growTi, alight on 
the railings between the two, not more than a dozen yards from 
where I was sitting. Anxious to see what bird had reared this 
Cuckoo, I sUently watched his movements, and had not waited 
more than a minute, when a Reed Warbler flew to the Cuckoo, 
who, crouching down with his breast close to the rail, and fluttering 
his wings, opened wide his orange-coloured mouth to receive the 
insect his foster-mother had brought him. This done, the Reed 
Warbler flew away for a fresh supply of food. The difference in 
the size of the two birds was great ; it was like a pigmy feeding 
a giant. While the Reed Warbler was absent, the Cuckoo shuffled 
along the rail, and hopped upon a slender post to which it was 
nailed, and which projected about eight inches above the rail. 
The Reed Warbler soon returned with more food, and alighted 
close to the Cuckoo, but on the rail beneath him ; she then began 
to stretch herself to the utmost to give him the food, but was unable 
to reach the Cuckoo's mouth, who, like a simpleton, threw his head 
back, with his mouth wide open, as before. The Reed Warbler, 
by no means at a loss, perched upon the Cuckoo's broad back, 
who, still holding back his head, received in this singular way the 
morsel brought for him." The song of the Reed Warbler is 
loudest and at its best during the evening twUight. 

» Mr. W. H. Thomas, in the Zoologist, p. 97, 



THE SEDGE WARBLER a; 

MARSH WARBLER 

ACROCfePHALUS PALUSTRIS 
Upper parts olive-green without any reddish tinge ; legs and feet pale brown. 

The Marsh Warbler is local in its occurrence, in the south of England. 
It nests in drier places than the Reed Warbler and its song is different, 
being much more melodious, and uttered more boldly. Close 
to low bushes, or among meadow-sweet, nettles and cow-parsnip, 
you may find its nest, which is made of fine rounded stalks of grass 
and lined with horsehair. There are five to seven eggs, whiter 
in ground colour than those of the Reed Warbler. The Marsh 
Warbler comes each spring to the neighbourhood of Taunton, but 
it is still a somewhat rare species. 

THE SEDGE WARBLER 

ACROC^PHALUS PHRAGMfXIS 

Upper plumage oHve-grey, the centre of each feather tinged with brown ; 
above the eyes a broad yellowish white stripe ; under, yellowish white, 
more or less tinged with red ; throat white ; tail rounded, of moderate 
length, of a uniform ash-brown. Length four and a half inches ; breadth 
seven and a half. Eggs dirty white, mottled all over with dull yellowish 
brown. 

On the banks of reedy and bushy rivers, in marshes, withy holts, 
wherever, in fact, there is fresh water associated with enough 
vegetation to shelter and conceal, this bustling little bird is a con- 
stant summer visitor ; restless in its habits, and courting notice 
by its twittering song, from the time of its arrival to that of its 
departure. It is usually first detected by its rapidly repeated note, 
which it utters while performing its short flights from bush to 
bush, and whUe creeping in and out among reeds and rushes. The 
fisherman knows it well, and is often tempted to withdraw his eye 
from his fly or float, to watch its movements on the opposite bank. 
From its unceasing babble, ploughboys call it a ' chat ', a name 
which exactly answers to the French name of the group to which 
it belongs — ' Jaseuses '. Its note is remarkable neither for volume 
nor sweetness, and, like that of unfeathered chatterers, seems to 
carry more noise than meaning. To a certain extent the bird is 
a mimic, as it imitates such notes of other birds as are within the 
compass of its little throat, I was walking one morning in May 
by the banks of a canal not far from a village, when I remarked 
the exact resemblance between a portion of its song and the chirrup 
of a House Sparrow. Intennixed with this, I detected the note 
of some other bird ; but, familiar though it sounded, I ransacked 
my memory in vain to discover from whom it was purloined. 
Pursuing my walk towards the houses, I heard the note of some 
Guinea-fowls ; not the * come-back ' cry, but the ' click-click ' 



38 THE GRASSHOPPER WARBLER 

which every one Icnows so well. Of this the Sedge Warbler had 
caught exactly both the key ajid the time ; the two notes were in fact 
identical, except that they were performed on instruments of different 
calibre. Like other chatterers, who, when they have finished their 
song, are easily provoked to begin again, the Sedge Warbler, if he 
does occasionally retire to a bed of reeds and there holds his peace, 
may be excited to repeat his whole story over again, with variations 
and additions, by flinging a stone into his breathing-place. And 
not content with babbling all day, he extends his loquacity far 
into the night ; hence he has been called the Sedge Nightingale, 
but with doubtful propriety, for, with all the will perhaps to vie 
with that prince of songsters, the zinzinare of the Nightingale is 
far beyond his powers. Yet in spite of his obtrusiveness, he is an 
amusing and a pleasant companion to the wanderer by the river's 
side : his rivalry is devoid of malice, and his mimicry gives no one 
pain. WhUe at rest — ^if he is ever to be detected in this state — he 
may be distinguished from all other birds frequenting similar haunts 
by his rounded tail, and a light narrow mark over each eye. His 
food consists of worms, insects, and freshwater moUusks, for which 
he hunts among the stems of aquatic plants. As an architect, he 
displays great skill, constructing his nest among low bushes, never 
at any great distance from the water, about a foot from the ground. 
It is composed of stems and leaves of dead grass, moss and fine 
roots, and lined with hair, wool, feathers, and the down of various 
marsh plants. The structure is large, compact, and deep, suspended 
from, rather than built on, its supports. The eggs are usually five 
or six in number, though as many as seven have been sometimes 
found. 



THE GRASSHOPPER WARBLER 

LOCUSTELLA NiEVIA 

Upper parts light brown, with a tinge of green, and presenting a spotted 
appearance, owing to the centres of the feathers being darkest ; tail long, 
rounded at the extremity and tapering towards the base ; under parts 
whitish brown, the breast marked with darker spots ; feet and toes light 
brown. Length five and a half inches ; breadth seven and a half. Eggs 
reddish white, closely speckled with darker red. 

As long ago as the time when a stroll of five-and-twenty miles 
fatigued me less than a journey of ten does now — when I returned 
from my botanical rambles with tin boxes, hands and pockets, 
laden with stores of flowers, ferns, and mosses, my homeward path 
often led me through a certain valley and wood on the skirts of 
Dartmoor, known by the names of Bickleigh Vale and Fancy 
Wood. It often happened that twilight was fading into gloom 
when I reached this stage in my wanderings — the last of the even- 
ing songsters had hushed its note ; for this county, beautiful as it 



THE GRASSHOPPER WARBLER 99 

Is, offers not sufficient attraction to the Nightingale ; yet I never 
passed this way under such circumstances without feehng myself 
compelled to stop once and again to listen to the monotonous whir 
of what I had been told, and what I believed to be the note of the 
large green grasshopper, or locust. Monotonous is, perhaps, not 
the right word to use, for an acute ear can detect in the long un- 
musical jar a cadence descending sometimes a semitone, and occa- 
sionally almost a whole note ; and it seemed besides to increase in 
loudness for a few seconds and then to subside a little below the 
ordinary pitch ; this fall is chiefly at the breeding season. Whether 
the difference was produced by a rising and lulling of the breeze, 
or whether the musician actually altered its note and intensity of 
noise (or must I call it music ?), I could never decide. As long as 
I fancied the performer to be an insect, I was inclined to believe 
that one of the first suppositions was correct ; for it seemed hardly 
possible that the purely mechanical action of an insect's thighs 
against its body could produce variety of sound — as well expect 
varied intonations from a mill-wheel or saw-pit. Attentive 
observation, and the knowledge that the noise in question proceeded 
not from the exterior of an insect, but from the throat of a bird, 
has led me to form another conclusion. I am not surprised at my 
having fallen into the error ; for the song of this bird is but an 
exaggeration of the grasshopper's note, and resembles the noise 
produced by pulling out the line from the winch of a fishing-rod, 
no less continuous is it, nor more melodious. Many years after- 
wards, when the memory of these pleasant wanderings had faded 
away, I happened one evening in May to be passing across a com- 
mon in Hertfordshire, skirted by a hedge of brushwood, when the 
old familiar sound fell on my ear like a forgotten nursery melody. 
The trees not being in their full foliage, I was not without hope 
that I might be able to get a sight of the performer, whom I now 
knew to be a bird, and I crept quietly towards the spot whence 
the noise proceeded. Had it been singing in a copse-wood instead 
of a hedge, I should certainly have failed, for there is the same 
peculiarity about its note that there is about that of the insect — 
you cannot make up yom: mind exactly whereabouts the instrument 
which makes the noise is at work. The note, when near, is con- 
tinuous, monotonous, and of equal loudness throughout ; it might 
be a minute spinning-wheel revolving rapidly, or a straw pipe with 
a pea in it blown with a single breath and then suddenly stopping. 
But whether the performance is going on exactly before you, a 
little to the right, or a little to the left, it is hard to decide. I 
approached to within a few yards of the hedge, and peered through 
the hazel rods, now decorated with drooping tufts of plaited leaves, 
but all in vain. I went a step or two nearer ; the sound ceased, 
and the movement of a twig directed my attention towards a parti- 
cular bush, on which I saw a little bird, about as big as a Hedge 



30 THE CHIFF-CHAFF 

Sparrow, quietly and cautiously dropping branch by branch to 
the ground. In a few minutes I observed it again a few yards off, 
creeping with a movement resembling that of the Nuthatch up 
another bush. Having reached to nearly tlie summit it became 
motionless, stretched out its neck, and keeping its mandibles 
continuously open and slightly elevated, commenced its trill again ; 
then it shuffled about for some seconds and repeated the strain. 
It now seemed to descry me, and dropping to the ground as before, 
reappeared a few yards off. I fancied that while actually singing 
its feathers were ruffled; but in the imperfect twilight I could 
not decide positively. That it kept its mandibles motionless while 
singing, I had no doubt. Half an hour afterwards, at a quarter 
to eight, I returned from my walk, and observed it several times 
go through precisely the same manceuvres. On no occasion did 
it make a long flight, but even when I scared it by throwing a stone 
into the hedge near it, it merely dropped to the ground, and in a 
minute or two was piping from another bush. I have not found, 
as some authors say, that it resorts only to the vicinity of watery 
places. The one which I saw on this occasion had located itself 
for the summer several miles from a stream ; and others which 
I have heard night after night had settled down on the skirts of a 
dry common, watered only by the clouds. Its nest I have sought for 
in vain. 

THE CHIFF-CHAFF 

PHYLLOSCOPUS RUFUS 

Upper parts olive-green tinged with yellow ; above the eyes a narrow, faint, 
yellowish, white streak ; under parts yellowish white ; feathers of the leg 
dirty white ; second primary equal to the seventh ; third, fourth, fifth, 
and sixth with the outer web sloped off at the extremity ; under wing- 
coverts primrose-yellow ; feet slender ; legs nearly black. Length four 
inches and a half ; breadth seven and a quarter. Eggs white, sparingly 
spotted with dark purple. 

Whatever question there may be whether the name of Willow- 
warbler be appropriately applied to the last species, there can 
be no doubt that the Chiff-chaff is well named. Let any one be 
asked in the month of May to walk into a wood and to hold up his 
hand when he heard a bird cafl itself by its own name, ' Chiff-chaff ', 
he could not possibly fall into an error. The bird is so common 
that it would be difficult to walk a mile in a woodland district 
without passing near one or more, and having little to say, it seems 
never weary of repeating its tale, ' Chiff, chaff, cheff, chiff, chaff ' : 
the syllables have a harsh sound pronounced by human lips, 
but when chanted in the silvery notes of a Httle bird, in the season 
of primroses and wild hyacinths, and accompanied by the warble 
of the Hay-bird, the full song of the Thrush, and the whistle of the 
Blackbird, they contribute not a little to the harmony of the woods. 



W\ 






l1 ^^ 




1-3* 




Wood Warbler $■ 
Grasshopper Warbler 



Willow Warbler $ 
Chiff Chaff $ 



^ i 



'^ \ 



n 





n 



/■/ 



Reed Warbler 
Sedge Warbler $ 



Marsh Warbler 
Dartford Warbler ? ^ 



THE WILLOW- WARBLER 31 

For two successive years a little yellowish bird, scarcely bigger 
than a wren, has established himself in my garden about the middle 
of April, and sedulously devoted himself to clearing away the 
aphides which infested some China roses trained against the walls 
of my house. Occasionally he would flutter against the windows, 
and give his attention to the spiders and gnats which nestled in 
the comers of the panes. The first year I took him for a Haybird, 
but, only too grateful for his kind offices, I was careful not to molest 
him. When, however, he appeared a second year, exactly at the 
same season, and performed a series of manoeuvres so precisely 
similar that it was impossible to doubt that the bird was not 
merely of the same species, but the same individual, I watched 
him more closely. The dark colour of his feet, as observed from 
within the house, as he was fluttering against the glass, decided 
the point that he was not a Hay-bird, and when he retired to an 
apple-tree hard by and treated himself to a song after his repast, 
no doubt remained that he was a Chiff-chaff. It is not often that 
the Chiff-chaff is thus familiar in its habits. More frequently 
it makes its abode in woods and groves, resembling the Hay- 
bird so closely in size, colour and habits, that to distinguish the 
two is very difficult. The difference of note, however, is decisive ; 
and the colour of the feet (when the bird is near enough to admit 
of being thus distinguished) is another certain criterion. The two 
birds frequent the same trees without rivalry or jealousy. The 
Chiff-chaff is the earliest of our spring visitors, arriving the middle 
of March, and it sings all through the summer ; I have heard it as 
late as the thirtieth of September. The nests, popularly called 
' wood-ovens ', are alike and placed in similar situations ; their eggs are 
of the same size and shape, but those of the Chiff-chaff are spotted 
with very dark purple instead of rust colour. A few occasionally 
remain with us all the year, feeding on winter gnats and the pupaa 
of small insects, but remaining wholly silent. Other names by 
which it is known are ' Chip-chop ' and Lesser Pettichaps. 



THE WILLOW-WARBLER 

PHYLLOSCOPUS TROCHILUS 

Upper parts bright olive-green ; a narrow streak of yellow over the eye ; under 
parts yellowish white, palest in the middle ; feathers of the leg yellow ; 
second primary equal to the sixth ; third, fourth, and fifth with the outer 
web sloped off at the extremity ; feet stoutish ; legs light brown. Length 
nearly five inches ; breadth eight. Eggs white, more or less speckled 
with rust colour. 

There seems to be no sufficient reason why this bird should be 
named Willow-warbler or Willow-wren, as it shows no special 
preference for willows, nor does it frequent watery places. The 
popular name, ' Hay-bird ', is, I think, the better of the two ; for, 



JS THE WOOD-WREK 

except In the extreme west of England, wherever there are hay- 
fields and trees these birds are to be found ; they build their nests 
principally of hay, and very frequently place it in the border of 
a hay-field. But, by whatever name it is known, it is a cheerful 
and active little bird, to which our woods and groves are much 
indebted for their melody. It is abundant and generally diffused, 
arriving in England early in April, and remaining until the middle 
of September. During the greater part of this period, it may be seen 
fluttering about the tops of trees, hunting the twigs and leaves for 
insects, and occasionally catching flies on the wing. It often, too, 
descends to the ground, and picks up insects among the herbage. 
I have never heard it sing on the ground ; but while employing 
itself aloft, it rarely allows more than a few minutes to elapse 
without going through its short and sweet song. This, though 
very agreeable, possesses no great variety, and is composed of 
about twenty or thirty notes, the latter ones of which are repeated 
rapidly, and form a natural cadence. For many years this plea- 
sant little melody, or the simpler song of the Chiff-chaff, has been 
the first sound I have heard to announce the arrival of the summer 
birds of passage ; perhaps it is on this account that it is with 
me, at all seasons, a favourite rural sound. 

Ornithologists seem well agreed that the WUlow-warbler's 
food consists entirely of insects. This may be so, but I am much 
mistaken if a brood of this species annually hatched in a bank 
of furze adjoining my garden, do not, in conjunction with Black- 
caps and Whitethroats, pay daily visits to a certain row of red rasp- 
berries in my garden. It may be that they come only in quest 
of aphides, but I have certainly seen them in dangerous proxi- 
mity to clusters of the ripest fruit, which, when they were scared 
away, bore evident marks of having been pecked by birds. The 
nest of the Hay-bird resembles that of the Wood-warbler, but 
it is lined with feathers. The eggs are usually from five to seven, 
and of the same size and shape, but the spots are rust-coloured and 
limited in number. 



THE WOOD-WREN 

PHYLLOSCOPUS SIBILATRIX 

Upper plumage bright yellowish green ; a broad streak of sulphur-yellow over 
the eye ; sides of the head, throat, insertion of the wings and legs bright 
yellow ; rest of the under plumage pure white ; second primary equal 
to the fourth, third and fourth with the outer web sloped oflE at the 
extremity ; legs pale brown. Length five inches and a half ; breadth 
eight and three quarters. Eggs white, speckled so thickly with purphsb 
brown as almost to conceal the ground. 

The Wood-warbler, Willow-warbler, and 'Chiff-chafE resemble 
each other so closely in size, colour, and habits, that except by 



THE GOLD-CREST 33 

a practised observer, they are likely to be mistaken for one anotlier. 
In song, however, they differ materially, and as this is begun early, 
and continued till very late in the season, it affords ready means 
of discriminating the species. The Wood-warbler, or Wood-wren 
as it is now called, arrives in England towards the end of April, 
and betakes itself to woodland districts, where it spends the greater 
portion of its time among the upper branches of lofty trees, constantly 
moving from place to place with rapid irregular flight, and fre- 
quently repeating its short and peculiar song. It feeds exclusively 
on insects, which it occasionally catches on the wing. Its song is 
difficult to describe. The name by which it is popularly known 
in some parts of France, TouUe, is derived from the syllable 
' tweet ', which, rapidly and continuously repeated many times, 
constitutes its song. These notes are uttered in a sweet tone, and 
with a tremulous accent, and are unlike those of any other bird. 
Gilbert White, who appears to have been the first who noticed the 
bird, describes it as " joyous, easy, and laughing". The last notes 
of its strain are accompanied by a quivering of the wings and tail, 
which accounts for their tremulous sound. 

The Wood-warbler is much less frequent than either the Willow- 
warbler or Chiff-chaff, and on a close inspection may be distin- 
guished by its superior size, by the pure white of its under tail- 
coverts, and by the bright yellow line above the eye. The nest 
is composed of grass, ferns, and moss, and lined with fine grass and 
hair ; it is covered with a dome, an entrance being left sufficiently 
large to allow its contents to be seen, and is placed on the ground, 
in or near a wood, among thick herbage, or against the stump of 
a tree. The eggs are from five to seven in number, almost round, 
and so thickly spotted with purple-brown that the ground is almost 
invisible. 



Sub-Family REGULINvE 
THE GOLD-CREST 

REGULUS CRISTATUS 

Upper parts olive, tinged with yellow ; cheeks ash colour, without streaks ; 
wing greyish brown, with two transverse white bands ; crest bright 
yellow, tipped with orange and bounded on each side by a black line ; 
under parts yellowish grey. In the female the crest is lemon colour, 
and the other tints are less brilliant. Each nostril is covered by one buff 
feather. Length three inches and a half. Eggs cream colour, minutely 
mottled at one end. 

The Gold-crest, Golden-crested Regulus, or Golden-crested 
Wren, though not exceeding in dimensions some of the larger 
humming-birds, and though decorated with a crest equalling in 

B,B. D 



?4 THE COLD-CREST 

brilliancy of colour the gay plumage of tropical birds, is a hardy 
little fellow, able to bear without shrinking the cold of an English 
winter, and to keep his position among the branches of high trees 
in the stormiest weather. Even during a heavy gale I have watched 
Gold-crests fluttering from branch to branch, and busily hunting 
for food, though the trees were waving like reeds. They are most 
numerous in winter, as a considerable number migrate southwards 
in October, but a great many remain with us all the year, 
preferring those districts where there are fir-plantations. Their 
whole life is spent in the air ; I at least have never observed 
one on the ground. Their food consists of the insects which infest 
the leaves and twigs of trees ; and I have seen them capture small 
moths on the wing. While hunting for food, which appears to 
be all day long, they are never still, fluttering from branch to branch, 
hanging in all attitudes, and peering in all directions. From time 
to time they utter their thin and wiry call-note, which is by some 
compared to the cry of the Shrew. It might be mistaken for the 
jarring noise made by two branches which cross one another, or 
that of a damp finger rubbed lightly along a pane of glass. Early 
in spring the song commences ; it is composed of about fifteen short 
notes, rapidly uttered at an exceedingly high pitch, and ending 
with a yet more rapid cadence. By the call-note or song the vicinity 
of the bird is far more frequently detected than by its actual 
appearance ; for the branches of firs in woods are mostly at a 
considerable height from the ground, and our ' little king ' (saving 
his majesty) is hard to be distinguished from a fir-cone, except 
when he is in motion. Gold-crests are eminently social birds ; 
they generally hunt in parties of half a dozen or more, and do not 
often change their hunting-ground ; at least I infer as much from 
the fact that on various occasions I have observed the same bird 
on the same clump of trees, at intervals extending over several 
weeks. I could scarcely have been mistaken in the identity of 
the bird, as it had lost a leg, by what accident I know not ; but the 
loss did not at all interfere with its activity or spirits. Their 
sociability extends sometimes to birds of other kinds, as the Creeper 
and the Tits of several species have been seen hunting in company 
with them. The habits of these birds being similar, they per- 
haps associate from a feeling of mutual protection, just as Sparrows, 
Buntings, and Finches make common cause, when they invade 
our rick-yards. The Gold-crests are, however, naturally less wary 
than any of the Tits. These last will at once decamp if disturbed, 
but Gold-crests will continue their hunting without taking any notice 
of a spectator. In autumn large flocks sometimes arrive on 
our east coast extending across England and on into Ireland. In 
April a return migration takes place. The nest of the Gold-crest is 
a beautiful structure. Its external form is nearly that of a globe, 
with a contracted opening at the top. It is composed of moss 




tfj^ 



Fire Crested Wren ^ 

Long Tailed Tit ^ 
Gold Crest j' 



Great Tit ^ 



[p. 34. 






% 




Crested Tit 3' 



Blue Tit <? 
Cole Tit S^ 



Marsh Tit ? 



THE LONG-TAILED TIT 35 

and lichens, Interwoven with wool and lined thickly with feathers. 
It is usually placed among the boughs of a silver-fir or spruce-fir, 
in such a manner as to be partially suspended from one branch 
and supported by another. The bird seems neither to court nor 
to shun the vicinity of human beings ; as I have found nests in 
the most lonely woods, and I have seen one in the branches of a 
spruce-fir, so close to my house that I could look into the nest 
from my bedroom windows, and watch the old birds feeding their 
young. The eggs vary in number from five to eight, they are 
almost globular, and smaller than those of any other British bird. 
This is scarcely surprising, seeing that the weight of a recently 
killed adult male which I have before me is eighty-seven grains ; 
so that five and a half full-grown birds weigh but an ounce. 



THE FIRE-CRESTED WREN 

REGULUS IGNICAPILLUS 

Upper parts olive-green ; a dark streak passing through the eye, and 
another white one above and below ; crest brilHant orange, bounded in 
front and on each side by a black streak ; in other respects resembling 
the last. Female with all the colours less brilUant. Length four inches. 
Eggs cream colour, tinged with red and dotted. 

This species both in size and habits resembles the last, from which 
it is best distinguished by three dark lines on each side of its head. 
Hence it is called in France ' Roitelet d triple bandeau'. It is far 
less common than the Gold-crest, and has not been observed in 
the winter, when birds of the other species are most abundant — 
in fact, it is only a rare straggler. Its caU-note is shorter than that 
of the Gold-crest, not so shrill, and pitched in a different key. 
The nests of the two birds are much cQike. 



FAMILY PARID^ 
THE LONG-TAILED TIT 

ACREDULA CAUDATA 

Head, neck, throat, breast, and a portion of the outer tail-feathers white ; 
back, wings, and six middle feathers of the tail black ; a black streak 
above the eye ; sides of the back and scapulars tinged with rose-red ; 
under parts reddish white ; tail very long ; beak very short. Length five 
inches and three-quarters ; breadth sLx inches and three-quarters. 
Eggs white, minutely and sparingly speckled with light red or plain white. 

All the Tits, of whatever species, are more or less sociable in their 
habits, hunting about during autumn in parties of half a dozen 



36 THE LONG-TAILED TIT 

or more ; but some of them are given to be quarrelsome, not 
only towards other birds — like the Great Tit, who actually murders 
them for the sake of picking out their brains — but among them- 
selves, as the Blue Tit, who has been noticed so intently engaged 
in combat with another bird of his own kind, that the observer 
caught them both in his hat. The Long-tailed Tits, however, are 
sociable after another sort. From the time that a young brood 
leaves the nest until the next pairing season, father, mother, and 
children keep together in irreproachable harmony. Exploring 
the same clump of trees in society, perfectly agreed as to whither 
their next flitting shall be, no one showing any disposition to 
remain when the rest are departing, molesting no one, and suf- 
fering as far as it can be ascertained no persecution, they furnish 
a charming example of a happy family. Nomad in their habits, 
save that they indulge in no questionable cravings for their neigh- 
bours' property, they satisfy their wants with the natural produce 
of any convenient halting-place, when they have exhausted 
which they take their flight, in skirmishing order, but generally 
in a straight line, and strictly following the lead of their chief, to some 
other station ; and when overtaken by night, they halt and en- 
camp where chance has left them. Their only requisite is, in 
summer, the branch of a tree ; in winter, some sheltered place 
where they can huddle together, and sleep until the next day's 
sun calls them to resume their erratic course. ^ Their food, during 
those journeys, consists of caterpillars, small beetles, and the 
pupae of insects generally, and this diet they seem never or very 
rarely to vary. ^ The ripest fruits do not tempt them to pro- 
long their stay in a garden, and insects that crawl on earth are 
in two senses beneath their notice. Their rapid progress from 
tree to tree has been compared to a flight of arrows. Singular 
as is their flight, they are no less amusing while employed in hunting 
for food, as they perform all the fantastic vagaries of the Tits, 
and their long straight tails add much to the grotesqueness of 
their attitudes. Seen near at hand, their appearance may be 
called comical. Their abundant loose feathers, the prevailing hue 
of which is grey, suggest the idea of old age, and, together with 
the short hooked beak, might give a caricaturist a hint of an anti- 
quated human face, enveloped in grey hair. Many of the provin- 
cial names of the bird are associated with the ridiculous ; thus. 
Long-tailed Mufflin, Long-tail Mag, Long-tail Pie, Poke-pudding, 

i The name proposed for the Long-tailed Tit, by Dr. Lcuch, Mecistura 
vagans, is most appropriate. " Long-tailed Wanderer,' for such is its import, 
describes the most striking outward characteristic of the bird, and its unvarying 
habit. 

* A young friend informed me that he had once shot one, ^^ith a beech- 
nut in its mouth. This it must have picked up from the ground, as the season 
was winter. 



THE GREAT TIT, OX-EYE. OR TOMTIT 37 

Hack-muck, Bottle Tom, Mum-nifiin, and Long-pod, pet names 
though they are, are also whimsical, and prepare one beforehand 
for the information that their owner is ' just a little eccentric '. 
But whatever be their name, I never hear the well-known ' zit, 
zit ', the pass-word which keeps them together, and which always 
accompanies their journeyings, without stopping to watch the little 
family on their flight. 

The nest of this species is of most exquisite workmanship and 
beautiful texture. Its form is that of a large cacoon broadest at 
the base, or that of a fir cone. It is sometimes fastened to the 
stem of a tree, sometimes placed in a fork, but more frequently 
built into the middle of a thick bush, so that it can only be re- 
moved by cutting away the branches to which it is attached. The 
outer surface is composed principally of the white lichen which 
is most abundant in the neighbourhood, and so is least likely to 
attract attention. All the scraps are woven together with threads 
of fine wool ; the dome is felted together, and made rain-proof 
by a thick coating of moss and lichen, wool and the web of spiders' 
eggs. The walls are of moss. The interior is a spherical cell, lined 
with a profusion of feathers. A softer or warmer bed it would 
be hard to imagine. At the distance of about an inch from the 
top is a circular opening scarcely large enough to admit one's 
thumb. In this luxurious couch, which it has cost the female 
bird some three weeks of patient industry to complete, she lays 
ten or twelve eggs, which all in good time are developed into as 
many Bottle Tits ; but by what skilful management the ten or 
twelve long tails are kept unruffled, and are finally brought to 
light as straight as arrows, I can offer no opinion. Nests are 
occasionally found containing as many^ as eighteen eggs. In these 
cases it has been aifirmed that two or more females share a common 
nursery, and incubate together. Certainly it is difficult to imagine 
how a single pair can manage to supply with food so many 
hungry young birds, but there is no direct evidence of their being 
two distinct broods. 



THE GREAT TIT. OX-EYE OR TOMTIT 

PARUS MAJOR 
Head, throat, and a line passing down the centre of the breast, black ; back 
olive-green ; cheeks and a spot on the nape white ; breast and abdomen 
yellow. Length six inches ; breadth nine. Eggs white, speckled with 
light rusty. 

As this bird is no larger than a Sparrow, its surname ' Great ' 
must be imderstood to denote only its superiority in sifie to other 



38 THE GREAT TIT, OX-EYE, OR TOMTIT 

birds of the same family. It is, however, great-hearted, as far 
as boldness and bravery entitle it to this epithet, being ready 
to give battle to birds far its superiors in size, foremost to join 
in mobbing an intrusive Owl, and prepared to defend its nest 
against robbers of all kinds. Its powers of locomotion are consi- 
derable, as it is strong in flight, active on the ground, and as a 
climber is surpassed by few rivals. Its stout and much-curved 
hind claw gives it great facility in clinging to the twigs and branches 
of trees, sides of ricks, and even the walls of houses. Such situations 
it resorts to in quest of its favourite food, caterpillars and pupae 
of all kinds, and it is most amusing to watch it while thus en- 
gaged. Attitude seems to be a matter of no consequence ; it 
can cling with perfect security to anything but a smooth surface. 
On trees it hangs from the branches, with its back either down- 
wards, or turned sideways, and explores crevices in walls with 
as little regard to the vertical position of the surface to which it 
clings, as if it were examining a hole in the level ground. Its 
efforts to disengage a chrysalis from its cocoon are very enter- 
taining. One scarcely knows which most to admire, the tenacity 
of its grasp, the activity with which it turns its head and body, or 
the earnestness and determination with which it clears away every 
obstacle until it has secured the prize. It does not, however, 
limit its food to insects ; it is accused of feeding occasionally on the 
buds of fruit-trees, but it is doubtful whether the bird has any other 
object in attacking these, than that of hunting out the insects that in- 
fest them. It is said also to be very fond of nuts, which it sticks into 
crevices in the bark of trees, and cracks by repeated blows of its 
beak. Whether it has this power, I do not know ; but that it will 
eat nuts of every kind, it is easy to prove by fastening the kernels 
of filberts or walnuts to the trunks of trees by means of stout pins. 
Tits, great and little, and Nuthatches, if there be any in the neigh- 
bourhood, will soon discover them, and if once attracted may thus 
be induced to pay daily visits to so productive a garden. A Great 
Tit of unusual intelligence, which frequents my garden at the 
present time, has been frequently observed to draw up by its claws 
a walnut suspended by a string from the bough of an apple-tree, 
and to rifle its contents, being itself aU the while leisurely perched 
on the twig, and keeping the nut firm by a dexterous use of its 
claws. A charge, amounting to a grave accusation against the 
Great Tit, and one which cannot be palliated by the plea that he 
has accomplices, is, that when driven by hunger and he has the 
opportunity, he attacks other small and weakly birds, splits their 
skulls by means of his strong, sharp beak, and picks out their 
brains. One story in particular I find, of a Great Tit having been 
placed in a well-filled aviary. In the course of a single night, he 
had killed every one of his companions, with the exception of a 
Quail, and when he was discovered, he was in the very act of dealing 



THE BLUE TIT, ALSO CALLED TOMTIT 59 

to this the coup de grace. His skill and discrimination in pecking 
holes in the sunniest side of ripe apples and pears are well known ; 
but to this reward for his services in destroying caterpillars he is 
justly entitled. 

The Great Tit builds its nest generally in the hole of a tree, 
employing as materials moss and leaves, and, for the lining, hair 
and feathers ; but as its habits lead it to our gardens, it comes 
into close contact with human beings and becomes familiar with 
them. Hence it occasionally builds its nest in quaint places, 
which bear ever so distant a resemblance to its natural haunts. 
An unused pump affords it an excellent harbour ; and the drawer 
of an old table, left in an outhouse, has been found thus occupied. 

The notes of the Great Tit are various, but not musical. Its 
spring song must be familiar to every one ; though not every one 
who hears it knows who is the musician. It consists of but two 
notes, repeated frequently, and sounding as if made by a bird 
alternately drawing in and sending out its breath ; both together 
give a fair imitation of the sharpening of a saw. Besides this, it 
indulges in a variety of chirps, twitters, and cheeps, some angry, 
some deprecatory, and some pert, which a practised ear only can 
refer to their proper author. 



THE BLUE TIT, ALSO'CALLED TOMTIT 

PARUS CCERULEUS 

Crown of tne head blue, encircled with white ; cheeks white, bordered with 
dark blue ; back olive-green ; wings and tail bluish ; greater coverts and 
secondaries tipped with white ; breast and abdomen yellow, traversed 
by a dark blue line. Length four inches and a half ; breadth seven 
inches and a half. Eggs as in the preceding, but smaller. 

The Blue or Tom Tit so closely resembles the Great Tit in its 
habits, that, with trifling exceptions, a description of one would 
be equally applicable to the other. Though much smaller than his 
relative, the Tom Tit is equally brave and pugnacious, and is even 
more quarrelsome, for he will fight with birds of his own kind ; 
and the Great Tit, if obhged to contest with him the possession of a 
prize, retires from the field. His food, too, consists principally 
of insects, but he is also very partial to meat. This taste leads 
him much to the neighbourhood of houses and other places where 
he can indulge his carnivorous propensities. A dog-kennel, with 
its usual accompaniment of carrion, is a favourite resort, and there 
are probably few butchers' shops in country villages which he does 
not frequently visit. A bit of bacon suspended from the branch 
of a tree is a great attraction. He evinces little fear of man, and 
will hunt about the trees in our gardens without seeming to notice 
the presence of a stranger. He frequently pays visits, too, to 



40 THE COLE TIT 

roses trained against cottages, and will occasionally flutter against 
the glass to secure a spider or gnat that he has detected while 
passing. His power of grasping is very great. I have seen him 
cling to the moulding of a window for several minutes, without 
relinquishing his hold, though the projecting surface was merely 
a smooth beading. All this while he was engaged in tearing to 
pieces the cocoon which some caterpillar had constructed in a 
crevice ; and so intent was he on his occupation, that he took no 
notice of the tenants of the room, though they were only a few 
feet distant from him. He is more frequently seen on the ground 
than either of the other species, and where it is the custom to 
throw out crumbs and the scrapings of plates, for the benefit of 
little birds, the Blue Tit rarely fails to present itself among Sparrows 
and Redbreasts. 

The Tom Tit builds its nest of moss, and lines it with hair, wool, 
and feathers. This it places in a hole, either in a wall or tree, and 
is at so great pains to combine comfort and security for its brood, 
that it has been known to excavate, in a decayed stump, a chamber 
large enough for its nest, and to carry away the chips in its beak to 
some distant place, lest, we may suppose, they should betray its re- 
treat. More frequently, however, it selects a natural hollow, as, for in- 
stance, the stump of a small tree in a hedge, of which all the inner 
part is decayed ; nor does it despise human appliances if they will 
answer its purpose ; a disused pump, a bottle, or a flower-pot, have 
aU been known to serve its turn. It lays seven or eight eggs, 
but a nest containing eighteen is on record ; and in defence of 
its family, shows great courage. If a nest be molested, the bird, 
instead of endeavouring to escape, retains its place and makes an 
unpleasant hissing noise, and if this be not enough to deter the 
intruder, pecks his fingers with great vigour. Hence it has received 
the popular name of ' Billy Biter '. As a songster, it does not rank 
high : yet it has some variety of notes, which it utters in short 
snatches, expressive rather than musical, as if the bird were trying 
to talk rather than to sing. 



THE COLE TIT 

PARUS ATER 

Crown of the head, throat, and front of the neck black ; cheeks and nape 
white ; upper parts grey ; wings bluish grey, with two white bands ; 
under parts white, tinged with grey. Length four inches and a half ; 
breadth nearly eight. Eggs like the last. 

This and the following species resemble each other so closely in 
size, habits, general hue and note, that at a distance it is difficult 
to distinguish them. There are, however, strong points of difference ; 
the head and neck of the present species being glossy black, with 



THE MARSH TIT 4I 

a patch of pure white on the nape of the neck and on the cheeks, 
while the head of the Marsh Tit is of a dull sooty black, without any 
admixture of white, nor is there a white spot on the cheeks. The 
Cole Tit is in many districts a common bird, inhabiting woods and 
hedgerows, and feeding on insects, for which it hunts with unceas- 
ing activity among the branches and twigs of trees. Its note is 
less varied than that of the Blue Tit, but sweeter in tone. It 
builds its nest in the holes of trees and walls, of moss, hair, and 
feathers, and lays six or seven eggs. 



THE MARSH TIT 

PARUS PALUSTRIS 

Forehead, crown, head, and nape black ; upper parts grey ; wings dark grey, 
lighter at the edges ; cheeks, throat, and brezist dull white. Dimensions 
and eggs as in the last. 

As has been said, the Marsh Tit and Cole Tit are so much alike 
that it requires a sharp eye to distinguish them at a distance. On 
a closer inspection, however, the characters mentioned in the 
preceding paragraph become apparent, and there can be no question 
that they are distinct species. The Marsh Tit is a bird of common 
occurrence, resident south of the Forth, being in some places less 
abundant, in others more so than the Cole Tit, while in others, 
again, the two are equally frequent. In those districts with which 
I am myself most familiar, it is hard to say which kind preponderates. 
Though it freely resorts to woods and plantations remote from 
water, it prefers, according to Montagu, low, wet ground, where 
old willow-trees abound, in the holes of which it often makes its 
nest. Its note, I have already observed, is very like that of the 
Cole Tit, being less harsh than that either of the Blue or Great 
Tit. The peculiar double note, which I know no other way of 
describing than by comparing it to the syllables ' if-he ', rapidly 
uttered, and repeated in imitation of a sob, characterizes, in a more 
or less marked degree, the spring song of all four. Another charac- 
teristic of the same species is, that all the members of a brood 
appear to keep much together for several months after they are 
fledged. At the approach of winter, they break up their societies, 
and are for the most part solitary till the return of spring. The Marsh 
Tit, like the Tom Tit, has been observed to enlarge the hole which it 
has selected for its nest, and to carry the chips in its bill to a dis- 
tance, and it is equally courageous in defence of its eggs and young. 



4S THE BEARDED REEDLING 

THE CRESTED TIT 

PARUS CRISTAtUS 

Feathers of the crown elongated and capable of being erected, black, edged 
with white ; cheeks and sides of the neck white ; throat, collar, and a 
streak across the temples ^black ; all the other upper parts reddish 
brown ; lower parts white, faintly tinged with red. Length four 
inches and three-quarters. Eggs white spotted with blood-red. 

' The Crested Tit ', is a solitary retired species, inhabiting only 
gloomy forests, particularly those which abound with evergreens. 
On the European Continent it is found in Denmark, Sweden, Russia, 
Switzerland, and some parts of France. In the large pine tracts 
in the north of Scotland, it is said to be not uncommon, and it 
used to be found also in the neighbourhood of Glasgow, but has 
been seldom observed in England. Its food consists of insects, berries 
of the juniper, and seeds of evergreens. It builds its nest in hoUow 
trees, or in the deserted nests of squirrels and crows, and lays as 
many as eight eggs, 



FAMILY PANURIDiE 

THE BEARDED TITMOUSE OR REEDLING 

PANURUS BIARMICUS 

Head bluish grey ; between the bill and eye a tuft of pendant black feathers 
prolonged into a pointed moustache ; throat and neck greyish white ; 
breast and abdomen white, tinged with yellow and pink ; upper parts 
light orange-brown ; wings variegated with white, black, and red ; 
tail long, orange-brown, the outer feathers variegated with white and 
black. In the female the moustache is of the same colour as the cheek, 
and the grey on the head is absent. Length six inches. Eggs white, 
with a few wavy lines of dark red. 

This pretty bird is of very local occurrence, being found in con- 
siderable numbers in several marshy districts where reeds abound, 
but in others being totally unknown. Their habits resemble those 
of the true Tits, but instead of spending their lives in trees, they 
confine themselves to the marshes, and are constantly employed 
in running up and down the stems of the reeds, hunting for their 
food, which consists of small molluscs (or water-snails) and the 
seeds of the reeds. Like the Tits, too, they are sociable, always 
being observed in pairs or families ; not congregating like Sparrows 
for the sake of mutual protection, but seemingly from the pure love 



THE )3EARDED REEDLING 43 

of each other's company. A writer in the Magazine of Natural 
History gives the following account of their habits : — ' I was told that 
some of these birds had been seen in a large piece of reeds below 
Barking Creek ; and being desirous of observing them in their 
haunts, I went, accompanied by a person and a dog, to the above- 
named place, on a cold and windy morning ; the reed-cutters 
having commenced their operations, I was fearful of deferring my 
visit, lest my game might be driven away. Arrived on our ground, 
we traversed it some time without success, and were about to leave 
it, when our attention was roused by the alarm-cry of the bird. 
Looking up, we saw eight or ten of these beautiful creatures on 
the wing, just topping the reeds over our heads, uttering, in full 
chorus, their forcibly musical note, which resembles the monosyl- 
lable ping ! pronounced first slow and single, then two or three 
times in a more hurried manner, uttered in a clear and ringing, 
though soft tone, which weU corresponds with the beauty and 
delicacy of the bird. Their flights were short and low, only sufficient 
to clear the reeds, on the seedy tops of which they alight to feed, 
hanging, like most of their tribe, with the head and back down- 
wards. After some time, we were fortunate enough to shoot 
one, a male, in fine plumage. I held it in my hand when scarcely 
dead. Nothing could exceed the beauty of the eye ; the bright 
orange of the iris, surrounded by the deep glossy black of the 
moustaches and streak above, receives additional brilliancy from 
the contrast, and struck me as a masterpiece of colour and neatness.' 
These specimens were observed in the month of December. To- 
wards the end *of April the Bearded Tit begins building its nest. 
This is composed externally of the dead leaves of reeds and sedges, 
and lined with the feathery tops of reed. It is generally placed 
in a tuft of coarse grass or rushes near the ground on the margin 
of the dikes, in the fen ; sometimes among the reeds that are 
broken down, but never suspended between the stems. Two nests, 
described by Yarrell, were composed entirely of dried bents, the 
finer ones forming the lining ; and others, increasing in substance, 
made up the exterior. The eggs were from seven to eight in number, 
rather smaller than those of the Great Tit, and less pointed, white, 
and sparingly marked with pale red lines or scratches. The same 
author observes that ' it is very abundant in HoUand ; and numbers 
are brought alive from that country to the London markets for sale ; 
the birds being attractive in confinement from the beauty of the 
plumage, their graceful form and general sprightliness.' I have seen it 
stated that the moustaches, from which the bird takes its name, are 
movable, and that their play gives a peculiar animation to the ex- 
pression of the bird's face, but I have never had an opportunity of 
verifying this remark. They have been increasing in the Norfollj 
Broads of late years. 



44! THE NUTHATCH 

FAMILY SITTIDiE 
THE NUTHATCH 

SITTA C^SIA 

Upper plumage bluish grey; a black streak across the eye; cheeks and throat 
white ; under plumage dull orange red ; outer tail-feathers black, with 
a white spot near the end, tipped with grey, the two central ones grey ] 
beak bluish black, the lower mandible white at the base ; feet light brown. 
Length six inches. Eggs white, spotted with two shades of purplish red. 

Standing, one winter's day, by the side of a pond, near a row of 
tall elms, and watching some boys sliding, I heard the few short 
twittering notes of a Nuthatch overhead, and it at once occurred 
to me how I should describe the note in such a way that it should 
be infallibly recognized. It is precisely like the sound made by a 
pebble thrown so as to bound along ice. This is the winter note. 
On line sunny days in February it begins to add to its simple call 
a more musical sound, approaching a whistle. Further on in the 
season, the twitter is heard no more, and is exchanged altogether for 
a not unmelodious whistle, several times repeated, rarely protracted 
into a bubbling sound, such as it might be supposed to make if it 
were rattling a pea in its throat. On these occasions it is usually 
perched in the branches of a tree, and may be distinguished by its 
bluish grey back, dull red breast, and short tail. The Nuthatch is 
not an accomplished musician, and claims, therefore, to be pointed 
out by other characteristics. This is no difficult task to undertake ; 
for no British bird is more decidedly marked in its habits. In the 
first place, it has strong clasping claws, which admirably adapt it for 
climbing ; and though it does not possess the rigid tail of the Wood- 
peckers to aid it in this operation, it has a short tail which never 
comes in the way. In most counties of England where old timber 
is (except the extreme western and northern, where it is rare) any 
one walking through a woodland district and keeping a sharp look- 
out may observe a bluish bird, somewhat larger than a Sparrow, 
creeping by starts up the trunk of any rough barked tree. It is so 
intent on its occupation — that of searching for insects in the 
crevices of the bark — that it takes no notice of the observer, but 
pursues its course after a method of its own, but according to no rule 
that we can detect. Now it disappears on one side of the trunk 
and then shows itself a few inches higher on the other ; now it is 
lost to sight for a longer interval — one would think it was hiding, or 
had taken its departure — but no, there it is again, creeping, back 
downwards, along a horizontal branch ; arrived at the extremity 
it utters a double twitter, perhaps, and flies either to a new tree or 
to another branch of the same. This time it creeps from the 
extremity of a branch towards the bole of the tree, equally at ease 
whatever may chance to be its position, and no more affected by 



THE NUTHATCH 45 

gravity than a fly. Arrived at the main stem it keeps on its course, still 
advancing by starts, and accompanying every movement, as, indeed, 
it has been doing all along, by an almost imperceptible twinkling of 
its wings, something like that which has gained for the Hedge 
Sparrow the sobriquet of ' Shuffle-wing '. That no other bird but 
the Nuthatch has the power of creeping down a tree I cannot say, 
for I once observed a Tree-creeper descend for a few inches • but no 
other British bird does habitually hunt after this method ; by 
this habit consequently it may be discriminated. Equally com- 
fortable in all positions, if it has any choice, or desires to rest, it 
clings to the upright trunk of a tree, head downwards. 

The Nuthatch is singular, too, in its mode of nidification. The 
only nest which I have thoroughly examined was built in the 
hollow of an apple-tree, and was composed entirely of scraps of 
birch-bark. The Naturalist contains a description of one made 
of beech-bark, though probably here, too, birch is meant ; others 
are described as being made of dry leaves and moss : but, what- 
ever the materials may be, the nest itself is invariably placed in 
the hole of a tree. There are good reasons for believing that in 
case of necessity the bird enlarges the cavity to make its dwelling 
sufficiently commodious, chips of wood having been sometimes 
found in the vicinity ; but what makes the Nuthatch singular 
among British birds is, that it not only enacts the carpenter when 
occasion arises, but adds the vocation of plasterer. 

In the case above alluded to I do not know that its powers were 
called out in either of these capacities. As a plasterer it had no 
occasion to work, for the opening to the hole was so small that it 
required to be cut away in order to admit a boy's hand, but many 
instances are recorded when it selected a hole with a large orifice 
which is contracted by lining it with a thick coat of mud and gravel. 
This parapet, constructed either to keep out bulky intruders or to 
keep in the young birds, if injured or destroyed will be found restored 
after a short lapse of time ; and so devoted a mother is the hen bird 
that she will suffer herself to be taken rather than desert her brood. 
I have rarely noticed a Nuthatch on the ground during winter, 
but in spring and summer it adds to its diet terrestrial insects and 
worms and is said also to be partial to red currants — not a singular 
taste. But the fruit which has an especial charm for the Nuthatch 
is that from which it derives its name.^ Its keen eye detects the 
ripening filbert in the garden or orchard before the hazels in the 
wood are beginning to turn brown, and it then despises less dainty 
food. One by one the clusters are pecked open and their contents 
purloined, carried, perhaps, to some convenient storehouse for future 
banquetings. At any rate the owner of filbert trees where these 
birds abound has need to keep a daily watch, or his share in the 

* From the French hacher, ' to chop ' ; hence also ' hatchet '. 



46 THE NUTHATCH 

produce will prove exceedingly small. I have seen trees bearing 
a fine crop of husks but nearly all empty. The proprietor had 
suffered them to remain till they were ripe, the Nuthatches had 
taken a different view of the case and preferred them unripe rather 
than not at all. But what, it may be asked, can a bird little larger 
than a Sparrow find to do with a filbert, or even a hazel-nut ? 
Here we have a fresh distinctive feature in the biography of the 
Nuthatch. The bird carries off its prey in its beak, and when 
in want of a meal wedges the nut in the crevice of some rough- 
barked tree, such as an oak, an elm, or a walnut. This done, he 
takes his stand, head downwards, above the nut, throws back 
his head to gather force for a blow, and then brings it violently 
forwards many times in rapid succession, aided, too, by the weight of 
his body and a clapping of the wings in exact time with each stroke. 
By dint of repeated blows thus dealt by his strong beak, even the 
hard shell of a filbert at last gives way ; a small hole is the result, 
which is soon enlarged, and the kernel becomes the hardly-earned 
prize. Any one who will take the trouble to examine the trunks 
of old oaks and elms will be sure to find shells still remaining 
wedged into the bark, and if during a ramble in the woods in 
autumn or winter, or even in early spring, he should happen to 
hear a smart tapping, let him follow the direction of the sound, 
and he will stand a fair chance of discovering the clever little nut- 
cracker at work. If in the course of his operations the bird happens 
to dislodge a nut, so nimble is he that before it reaches the ground 
he will have caught it in his beak. Acorns and the nuts of yew- 
berries, and probably other hard seeds, are similarly treated by 
the Nuthatch ; cherrystones, I suspect, are beyond his powers, 
yielding only to the massive beak of the Hawfinch. The Nuthatch 
may easily be induced to visit gardens by wedging hazel or Spanish 
nuts into the bark of trees ; a walnut fastened on by a pin is equally 
effectual. But no more enticing bait can be set than a lump of 
fat meat, which should be tied tightly by a string to the horizontal 
branch of an apple-tree or any other tree, a good view of which can 
be commanded from the house. If the weather be severe and the 
ground covered with snow, it is surprising what a variety of birds 
will come to partake of the unknown food. Robins, Sparrows, 
Tits of several kinds, Chaffinches, and others flock for a share, not 
without sundry bickerings, alarms, and semblances of fighting. 
But should a Nuthatch happen to appear, all retire until his high- 
ness is satisfied. He enters upon the scene in a way of his own. 
Other birds alight on a bough or twig at some little distance from the 
banquet and make gradual advances Not so the Nuthatch ; 
he darts forward in a horizontal line, as if propelled by a missile, 
sticks by his claws to whatever part of the branch he happens to 
touch, not caring in what attitude he alights, stops for a second as 
if to assure himself in what direction his head is pointing, creeps 



\ 







Tree Creeper $ 

Bearded Recdling S 2 



Nuthatch $■ 
Wren 




/^'jtSfc^i 






Rose coloured Starling ? 
Starling $ 



Dipper 8 
Golden Oriole $ $ 



THE TREE CREEPER 47 

nimbly round to the morsel, takes his stand on it and hammers 
away until he has separated a large lump. This he then seizes 
in his beak and retires to a place of seclusion, leaving the inferior 
animals to squabble to their hearts' content over the crumbs which 
he has dislodged, and presently he discomfits them again by a reap- 
pearance. What his powers as a combatant may be I cannot say ; 
great, it may be supposed, for no one is inclined to do him battle, and 
he is not sociably disposed even towards those of his own kind. 



FAMILY CERTHIIDiE 
THE TREE CREEPER 

C^RTHIA FAMILIAriS 

Upper plumage mottled with yellowish brown, dark brown, and white ; a pale 
streak over the eyes ; throat and breast buff-white, becoming dusky 
towards the tail ; wings brown tipped with white and barred with white 
brown, and dull yellow ; tail-feathers reddish brown, stiff and pointed. 
Length five inches, breadth seven inches. Eggs white, with small 
yellowish red spots. 

The Tree Creeper, though a common bird, is less familiarly known 
than many others of much rarer occurrence, yet, if once observed, 
can be confounded with no other. In size it ranks with the Tits, 
Willow Wren, etc., but is less likely to attract notice than any of 
these, as it never alights on the ground, nor perches on the small 
twig of a tree. Its note, too, is weak, simple, and unpretending, 
amounting to no more than an occasional * cheep ', which it utters 
from time to time while hunting for food, and while performing 
its short flights. Any one, however, who wishes to see the bird, 
and knows what to search for, can scarcely fail of success if he looks 
well about him during a stroU through almost any wood of full- 
grown trees. Half-way up the trunk of a rugged elm or oak he will 
observe a small portion of bark, as it were, in motion ; the motion, 
and not the colour, betrays the presence of a small brown bird, 
which is working its way by a succession of irregular starts up the 
trunk. Frequently it stops for a few seconds, and is evidently 
pecking at some small insect, quite noiselessly however. Its beak 
is not adapted for hammering ; it confines its attention therefore 
to such insects as live on the surface of the bark. It utters a low 
' cheep ', and proceeds, not in a straight line up the tree, but turning 
to the right or left according as it descries a probable lurking-place 
of its prey : presently it disappears on the other side of the trunk, 
and again comes in view a few feet higher up. Now it reaches a 



48 THE WREN 

horizontal branch ; along this it proceeds in like manner, being 
indifferent wliether it clings sideways, or hangs with its back down- 
wards. Arrived at the smaller subdivisions of the bough it ceases 
to hunt ; but, vidthout remaining an instant to rest, flies to the 
base of another bough, or more probably, to another tree, alighting 
a few feet only from the ground, and at once beginning a new ascent 
This mode of hfe it never varies : from morning to night, in winter 
and in summer, it is always climbing up the boles of trees, and 
when it has reached the top, flying to the base of others. On one 
sohtary occasion I observed one retrace its steps for a few inches, 
and stand for a second or two with its head downwards ; but this 
is a most unusual position, as indeed may be inferred from the 
structure of its tail, the feathers of which are rigid, and more or 
less soiled by constant pressure against the bark. It frequently 
visits orchards and gardens in the country, displaying little fear 
of man, preferring perhaps to hunt on the far side of a tree when 
any one is looking on ; but not very particular even about this, 
and certainly never thinking it necessary to decamp because it is 
being watched. To this indifference to the presence of human 
beings, it owes its name ' familiaris', and not, as it might be imagined, 
to any fondness for their societ}'', which, in fact, it neither courts 
nor shuns. It is a quiet inoffensive creature, congregating with 
no other birds, and being rarely, except in spring, seen in company 
with even its own species. It builds its nest of small roots and 
twigs, scraps of bark and grass, and lines it with wool and feathers. 
A hole in a poUard willow is a favourite place for a nest ; in default 
of this a hollow in any other tree is selected, or the space between 
the stump of a tree and a detached portion of bark ; and it chooses 
the straw eaves of some shed. It lays from six to nine eggs, which 
are exceedingly Like those of the smaller Tits. 



FAMILY TROGLODYTID.E 

THE WREN 
tr6glodytes pArvulus 

Upper plumage reddish brown •with transverse dusky bars ; quills barred 
alternately with black and reddish brown ; tail dusky, barred with black ; 
over the eyes a narrow light streak ; under parts light reddish brown ; 
the sides and thighs marked with dark streaks. Length three inches 
and three-quarters ; breadth six inches and a half. Eggs white with a 
few yellowish red spots towards the larger end, sometimes without spots. 

Throughout the whole of England the Wren is invested with a 
sanctity peculiar to itself and the Redbreast. In the west of 
England I was familiar, as a child, with the doggerel rhymes : 



THE WREN 49 

Whoso kills a Robin or a Wran 
Shall never prosper boy nor man. 

In the north it is protected by a similar shield: 

Malisons, malisons, mair than ten. 

Who harries the queen of heaven's Wren. 

In the Isle of Man a legend exists that there ' once on a time ' lived 
a wicked enchantress who practised her spells on the warriors of 
Mona, and thereby stripped the country of its chivalry. A doughty 
knight at length came to the rescue, and was on the point of sur- 
prising her and putting her to death, when she suddenly transformed 
herself into a Wren and flew through his fingers. Every year, on 
Christmas Day, she is compelled to reappear in the island under 
the form of a Wren, with the sentence hanging over her, that she 
is to perish by human hands. On that day, consequently, every 
year, a grand onslaught is made by troops of idle boys and men 
on every Wren which can be discovered. Such as are killed are 
suspended from a bough of holly and carried about in triumph 
on the following day (St. Stephen's Day), the bearers singing a rude 
song descriptive of the previous day's hunt. The song is preserved 
in Quiggin's Guide to the Isle of Man, as it was sung in 1853 ; and, 
strange to say, it agrees almost word for word with a song which 
was current twenty years ago, and is so perhaps now, among the 
rustic population of Devonshire, though the actual hunt has in the 
latter case fallen into disuse. 

In several parts of Ireland, especially the south, there still exists 
a legend to the effect that a party of Irish soldiers were on the 
point of surprising their enemies (either Danes or Royalists, for 
the story varies) who lay fatigued and asleep, when a Wren perched 
on the drum and awoke the sentinels. An unhappy legend for the 
poor bird. For some weeks previous to Christmas, peasants assemble 
to revenge the treachery of the offender in the persons of his descen- 
dants. Every Wren that is seen is hunted to death, and the bodies 
are carefully saved till St. Stephen's Day, when they are suspended 
from a decorated hoUy-bough and carried from house to house by 
the captors, accompanied by a song of which, in Connemara, this 
is the burden : 

The Wran, the Wran, the king of all birds, 
St. Stephen's Day was caught in the furze ; 
Although he is little, his family's great ; 
So come out, kind ladies, and give us a trate. 

The version of the song in Hall's Ireland, as it is sung in the 
neighbourhood of Cork, scarcely differs from the above, and a 
similar one may be heard on the same day within twenty miles of 
Dublin. That a custom so absurdly singular should exist in places 
so remote, is in itself evidence that it is of ancient origin, though 
whence derived it would be idle to inquire, 

B.B. S 



50 THE WREN 

The true story of the Wren is simple enough. It is a minute 
bird of unpretending plumage, distinguished easily by its erect 
tail and its habit of hiding in bushes and hedges, not clinging like 
the Creeper to the perpendicular or horizontal bough of a tree, but 
hopping from twig to twig, and occasionally taking a short direct 
flight to another place of concealment, but rarely exposing itself 
by doing more than this. When hunting for its food, which is 
considered to be almost exclusively insects, it searches diligently 
holes and crannies of all kinds, and in all substances. I have 
known one make its way habitually through a zinc pipe into a 
greenhouse, and do much service there by picking aphides from 
the slender stalks of herbaceous plants, which bent into the form 
of an arch under even its trifling weight. While thus occupied it 
has suffered me to come within arm's length, but has taken no 
notice of me. Generally, it displays little fear of mani; but, though 
in winter it resorts to the neighbourhood of houses in quest of 
food, it shows no disposition, like the Redbreast, to enter on terms 
of intimacy, nor is it sociable either with its own kind or other 
birds. Its call-note is a simple ' chip, chip ', which often betrays 
its vicinity when it is itself concealed from sight. Its proper song 
is full, loud, clear, and powerful, rapidly executed and terminating 
in a trill or shake, followed by two or three unimportant notes. 
This it utters occasionally in autumn and winter. About the middle 
of March the song of the Wren is among the most frequent sounds 
of the country. At this season one may often hear in a garden 
the roundelay of a Wren poured forth from the concealment of a 
low shrub ; and, immediately that it is completed, a precisely 
similar lay bursts forth from another bush some twenty yards off. 
No sooner is this ended than it is answered, and so the vocal duel 
proceeds, the birds never interfering with each other's song, but 
uttering in turns the same combinations and arrangement of notes, 
just as if they were reading off copies of a score printed from the 
same type.^ 

But the season is coming on when the Wren has to be occupied 
with other things than singing down a rival. Nest-making is with 
this bird something more than the laying of a few sticks across 
one another. It is not every one who has at once the time, the in- 
clination and the steadiness of purpose to watch, from beginning 
to end, the completion of a Wren's nest. To most people, one or 
other of these qualifications is wanting, and to not a few all three. 
A friend of Mr. Macgillivray, however, performed the task, and 
furnished him with a most satisfactory detailed account of what 
passed under his observation. The nest was commenced at seven 
o'clock in the morning of the thirtieth of May, by the female bird's 
placing the decayed leaf of a lime-tree in the cleft of a Spanish 

» I have heard the same musical contest in August, 



THE DIPPER 51 

Juniper, The male took no part in the work, but regaled his busy 
partner by singing to her all day long. At one period of the day she 
brought in bundles of leaves four, five, and even six times in the 
space of ten minutes. At other times, when greater care was needed 
in the selection of materials, she was sometimes absent for eight or 
ten minutes, but such was her industry that at seven o'clock the 
whole of the external workmanship was finished, the materials 
being dry leaves, felted together with moss. On the following day 
both birds joined in the work, beginning as early as half -past three 
o'clock in the morning, the materials being now moss and a few 
feathers. So the work proceeded, day after day, until the eighth of 
June, when the structure was completed, being a compact ball of 
dried leaves felted with moss and thickly lined with finer moss and 
feathers, domed over and having a small circular opening on one 
side. Dried leaves form the exterior of most Wrens' nests, unless 
they are placed in situations where such an appearance would attract 
the attention of a passer-by. On a mossy bank, the outside would 
probably consist of moss ; under the root of a tree, of twigs ; in a 
hay-stack, of hay, and so on, the bird being guided by its instinct 
to select the least conspicuous material. The number of eggs laid 
is usually six, but as many as fifteen or sixteen have been observed. 
Any one residing in the country, who has given his attention to 
birds' nests, must have remarked what a large proportion of the 
Wrens' nests which he has discovered are in an unfinished state and 
contain no eggs. These are called ' cock ' nests. In winter wrens 
resort in numbers to old nests and to holes in walls for mutual 
warmth and shelter. 



FAMILY CINCLID^ 

THE DIPPER 

CINCLUS AQUATICUS 

Upper plumage dark brown, tinged with ash ; throat and breast pure white ; 
abdomen brownish red ; bill blackish ; feet horn-colour. Female — 
colours nearly the same, but of a dingy hue. Length seven mches. Eggs 
pure white. 

Any one who has wandered by the mountain rivers of Scotland, 
North Wales, or Derbyshire, can have scarcely failed to notice a 
bird, somewhat less than a Blackbird, black above, with white 
throat and breast, dart with rapid and direct flight from a low 
rock on the river's bank, and alight on a wet mossy stone rising 
but a few inches above the water, where the stream runs swiftest 
and the spray sparkles brightest. But for the roar of the torrent 



$» THE DIPPER 

you might hear his song, a low melodious strain, which he often 
carries far on into the winter. His movements while he is thus 
perched are peculiar ; a jerking upwards of the tail and dipping 
forward of the head remind us of the Wren, a bird with which he 
has, however, nothing really in common. Water Thrush is one 
of his names ; but he is better known by the names, Dipper 
and Water Ouzel. Though neither furnished with web-feet like the 
Ducks, nor with long legs like the Waders, the Dipper is decidedly 
an aquatic bird, for he is never seen at any distance from a stream 
or mountain tarn ; in his habits he resembles no other of his tribe 
— a water bird with a song — a song bird that wades, and swims. 
That he should be so far only singular in his habits is not enough. 
Although he is a wader he wades differently from other birds ; and he 
uses his wings like oars. The Dipper uses both legs and wings in 
search of prey, examining the pebbles, feeding on molluscs and the 
larvae of insects. Mr. St. John is of opinion that it commits great 
havoc among the spawn, ' uncovering the eggs, and leaving what it 
does not eat open to the attack of eels and other fish, or liable to be 
washed away by the current'. Mr. Macgillivxay, on the contrary, 
states that he has dissected a great number of individuals at all 
seasons of the year, and has found no other substances in their 
stomachs but insects and molluscs ; he is therefore of opinion that 
the charge of destroying the spawn of fish is unfounded. The latter 
opinion obtains now. 

I might greatly extend my sketch of this interesting bird, but 
I have space only to add, that it builds a compact nest of moss, 
felted so as to be impervious to water, and lined with dead leaves, 
under a bank overhanging a stream, in the hole of a wall near a 
mill-dam, or between two rocks under a cascade, but alwa)^ in 
such a situation that both old and young birds can throw themselves 
into the water immediately on being alarmed. I have read of one 
instance in which a nest was built under a waterfall in such a posi- 
tion, that the bird could not go to and fro without penetrating every 
time a vertical sheet of water. The nest is domed, and can be 
entered only by a small hole in front. It contains usually five or 
six whitish eggs, somewhat smaller than those of the Thrush. 



TIIE GOLDEN ORIOLE fj 



FAMILY ORIOLID.E 
THE GOLDEN ORIOLE 

ORIOLUS GALBULA 

Plumage golden yellow ; lore, wings and tail black, the tail yellow at the tip. 
Female : — olive green above, greyish white tinged with yellow beneath, 
and streaked with grejdsh brown ; wings dark brown, the quills edged 
with olive grey ; tail ohve, tinged with dark brown. Length ten Inches 
Eggs white with a few isolated dark brown or black spots. 

This brilliant bird, resembling the Thrushes in form and habits, 
but apparelled in the plumage of the Tropics, would seem to have 
no right to a place among British birds, so little is its gorgeous 
livery in keeping with the sober hues of our other feathered denizens. 
There can, however, be no doubt of the propriety of placing it among 
our visitors, though it comes but seldom and makes no long stay. 
It is a visitor to the southern seaboard counties and often seen in 
Cornwall and the Scilly Isles. Were it left unmolested, and allowed 
to breed in our woods, it is probable that it would return with its 
progeny, and become of comparatively common occurrence ; but 
though there are on record one or two creditable exceptions, when real 
naturalists have postponed the glory of shooting and adding to 
their collection a British specimen, to the pleasure of watching its 
ways on British soil, yet its biography is not to be written from 
materials collected in this country. On the European continent 
it is a regular visitor, though even there it makes no long stay, 
arriving in the beginning of May, and taking its departure early in 
autumn. It is most common in Spain, Southern France, and Italy, 
but is not unfrequent in many other parts of France, in Belgium, 
and the south of Germany, and Hungary. 

' His note', says Cuthbert Collingwood, ' is a very loud whistle, 
which may be heard at a great distance, but in richness equalling 
the flute stop of a fine-toned organ. This has caused it to be called. 
Loriot in France. But variety there is none in his song, as he never 
utters more than three notes consecutively, and those at intervals 
of half a minute or a minute. Were it not for its fine tone, there- 
fore, his song would be as monotonous as that of the Missel Thrush, 
which in modulation it greatly resembles.' 

The nest of the Oriole is described as a marvel of architectural 
skill, excelling in elegance of form, richness of materials, and delicacy 
of workmanship combined with strength. It is overlaid externally, 
like that of the Chaffinch, with the silvery white lichen of fruit trees, 
which gives it the appearance of being a part of the branch which 
supports it. But the mansion of the Oriole is more skilfully con- 
cealed than that even of the Chaffinch. The latter is placed on a 
branch, of which it increases the apparent size, and so attracts 



54 THE STARLING 

attention. The nest of the Oriole, on the contrary, is suspended 
between the two forks of a horizontal branch, which intercept the 
side view of it. The materials employed are the lichen above men- 
tioned, wool, cobwebs, and feathers, but all of a white hue. When 
not placed in a fruit tree, it is attached by a kind of cordage to the 
twigs of a poplar or birch tree, or even to a bunch of mistletoe, 
hanging in mid-air like the car of a balloon. A cradle thus sedu- 
lously constructed we should expect to find watched with unusual 
solicitude. And such is the case ; it is defended most valiantly 
against the attacks of marauding birds, and so devoted is the mother 
bird that she has been known to suffer herself to be carried away 
sitting on her eggs, and to die of starvation. Surely a bird so 
beautiful and so melodious, so skilful an architect and so tender 
a nurse, deserves rather to be encouraged than exterminated. 
Nests have been found in several of our counties, more especially 
in Kent. The plumage of the female bird differs considerably from 
that of the male in richness of tint, and the young of both sexes 
resemble the female. 



FAMILY STURNID^ 
THE STARLING 

STURNUS VULGARIS 

Plumage black, with brilliant purple and green reflections, the upper feathers 
tipped with cream-colour ; under tail-coverts edged with white ; beak 
yellow ; feet flesh-colour, tinged with brown. Female — spotted below 
as well as above. Young — uniform ash-brown, without spots. Length 
eight and a half inches ; width fifteen inches. Eggs uniform pale greenish 
blue. 

The Starling is a citizen of the world. From the North Cape to 
the Cape of Good Hope, and from Iceland to Kamtschatka, he is 
almost everywhere at home, and too familiar with the dealings of 
man to come v/ithin a dangerous distance of his arm, though he 
fully avails himself of all the advantages which human civilization 
offers, having discovered, long ago, that far more grubs and worms 
are to be procured on a newly-mown meadow than on the bare hill- 
side, and that the flavour of May-dukes and Coroons immeasurably 
excels that of the wUd cherries in the wood. That dove-cots, holes 
in walls, and obsolete water-spouts are convenient resting-places 
for a nest, appears to be a traditional piece of knowledge, and that 
where sheep and oxen are kept, there savoury insects abound, is 
a fact generally known, and improved on accordingly. So, in 
suburban gardens, where even the Redbreast and Tits are unknown. 
Starlings are periodical visitors and afford much amusement by 



THE STARLING 55 

their shambling gait, and industrious boring on the lawn for larvae 
— in cherry orchards they are regarded with terror, on account of 
the amount of mischief they will accomplish in a short space of 
time ; and in the sheep-fold they are doubtless most cordially 
welcomed and their services thankfully received, as they rid the 
poor tormented animals of many an evil ' tick ', 

The Starling is a handsome bird ; seen at a distance it appears 
to be of a uniform black hue, but on closer inspection its sable coat 
is found to be lustrous with reflections of purple and green, and every 
feather is tipped with white, or cream-colour — a mantle of shot- 
siik garnished with pearls. 

Except during the nesting season, a Starling is rarely seen alone ; 
most commonly perhaps they are observed in parties of from six to 
twelve, hunting in orchards or meadows for whichsoever article of 
their diet happens to be in season. Wherever a colony of Rooks, 
Jackdaws, or Rock Pigeons has established itself, there most pro- 
bably, or somewhere in the neighbourhood, a large party will 
assemble to roost, and will attend the others on all their foraging 
expeditions. In spring the flocks, small and great, break up into 
pairs, each withdrawing to a convenient nesting place, which is 
sometimes a hole in a tree, sometimes a buUding, a cliff, or a cave. 
The nest itself is a simple structure, being composed of dry grass 
and roots, and contains generally five eggs. At this season the male 
bird adds to the chirping and twittering notes of both sexes a soft, 
and not unmusical note, which resembles more closely than any 
other sound with which I am acquainted the piping of a boatswain's 
whistle, and it is not uncommon to hear a party of choristers 
thus engaged, perched meanwhile on some high tree, even whUe 
incubation is going on. Starlings, also, mimic the notes of 
other singers. The breeding season over, they become nomad in 
their habits. Many families unite into a flock, and explore the 
country far and wide for suitable feeding places, their diet being, 
up to this time, exclusively worms and insects. But no sooner does 
the fruit begin to ripen in the cherry districts, than the flocks, now 
assembled in countless multitudes, descend on the trees, and, if not 
observed and scared away, appropriate the whole crop. 

Newly-fledged Starlings are so different from their parents, that 
they might be mistaken for a different species. The plumage is of a 
uniform greyish brown, lighter beneath. It is not till the end of 
July or the beginning of August that the adult plumage begins to 
show itself, and then the young birds present a singular appear- 
ance, as the glossy black feathers, tipped with pearl, appear in 
irregular patches on various parts of the body. Starlings do not 
usually roost near the scene of their depredations, but from this 
season and thence until late in autumn they repair, as if by some 
preconcerted scheme, to a rendezvous common to many detach- 
ments. A writer in the Zoologist states that there were formerly. 



56 THE CHOUGH 

near Melbourne in Cambridgeshire, some large patches of reeds, 
which were rented at a certain annual sum, and which the tenant 
sold to builders to use in making plaster-floors and ceilings of rooms. 
Towards autumn, Starlings resorted to them in such numbers to 
roost, that unless scared away, they settled upon the reeds, broke 
them down and rendered them completely useless. It required a 
person to keep watch every evening for some time, and fire at them 
repeatedly with a gun as they were settling down ; but as the spot 
was a favourite one, they showed considerable reluctance in quitting 
it. 

THE ROSE-COLOURED STARLING 

PASTOR ROSEUS 

Head crested ; crest and neck black, lustrous with violet reflections ; back 
and lower parts rose-colour ; wings and tail lustrous brown. Length 
eight inches. 

A VERY beautiful bird, partaking the characters of the Starlings 
and Crows. It is an inhabitant of Syria, Asia Minor, and Africa, 
where it is gregarious in its habits, and does much mischief to the 
grain crops. It comes as a straggler to our country from spring 
to autumn ; only, unfortunately, to be shot as a ' specimen '. 



FAMILY CORVID^ 

THE CHOUGH 
pyrrh6corax graculus 

Plumage Wack, with purple and green reflections ; beak and feet coral-red j 
claws black. Length sixteen inches ; width thirty-two inches. Eggs 
yellowish white, spotted with ash-grey and light brown. 

Continental authors state that the bird which we call the Chough 
or Red-legged Crow frequents the highest mountain regions and 
the confines of perpetual snow, and that hence it is sometimes 
known by the name of ' Jackdaw of the Alps '. Like the rest of 
its tribe, it is omnivorous, and lives in societies, like the common 
Jackdaw and Rook, but rarely deserting, and then only when pressed 
by hunger, the place of its birth. With us it is never seen inland, 
confining itself to the rocky sea-coast, where it builds its nest in 
inaccessible cliffs, and leads the same kind of Life with its sable 
relatives the Crows and Jackdaws, though it never ventures, as they 
do, far from its sea-side strongholds. The name Chough was proba- 
bly in ancient times used as a common appellation of aU the mem- 
bers of the family Corvidae which have black plumage, this one being 



THE NUTCRACKER 57 

distinguished as the ' Cornish Chough ', from the rocky district 
which it frequented. The famous lines in King Lear — 

The Crows and Choughs that wing the midway air 
Show scarce so gross as beetles : 

point probably to the Jackdaw, which is abundant on the rocky 
coast of Kent, where the Chough has not been observed, though 
there is a traditional account of a pair which many years ago 
escaped from confinement and bred there. By its flight it is 
scarcely to be distinguished from the Jackdaw ; but if it comes 
near enough to the observer to betray the vermUion colour of 
its legs, it may be known at once, and, seen on the ground, its long 
curved bHl, and more slender form, sufficiently distinguish it from 
all others to which it assimilates in colour and size. 

Not many years since, the Chough was far from uncommon in 
several parts of the coast of Devon and Cornwall. It is now much 
less frequent, though it still lingers about the Lizard in the latter 
county, and is said to breed in the high cliffs near Combe Martin 
in Devonshire, in both of which places I have often looked out 
sharply for it, but have never been quite satisfied that I have seen 
one. It is said also to haunt the precipitous coast of several other 
parts of Great Britain, and to be found also in many parts of Ire- 
land ; in the Channel, especially in Guernsey, it is fairly common, 
but always preferring the least frequented localities. The peculiar 
habits of a bird so uncommon and secluded are little known, so far 
at least as they are characteristic of the bird in its wild state. In 
captivity its ways differ little from those of the rest of its tribe. 
It is inquisitive, intrusive, captious in temper, disposed to become 
attached to those who treat it well, fond of attracting notice ; in a 
word, it surpasses in intelligence most other tribes of birds, ranking 
among those members of the brute creation whose instinct amounts 
to something more than a formal compliance with certain laws 
which the rational creation has arbitrarily set down for their 
government. Insects and the rejectamenta of the sea-shore and 
occasionally grain form its diet. It builds its nest of sticks, and 
lines it with wool and hair, preferring a cleft in a rock, but not 
refusing any old ruin conveniently situated for its purpose. It lays 
four or five eggs. 

THE NUTCRACKER 

NUCfFRAGA CARYOCATACTES 

Plumage sooty brown, spotted on the back and under parts with white j tail 
black, barred with white at the extremity ; beak and feet horn-colour ; 
iris brown. Length thirteen inches. Eggs Ught buflf, with a few greyish 
brown spots. 

The Nutcracker Crow, a rare straggler, must not be confounded 
with the Nuthatch, which we have already described; the for- 



58 THE JAY 

mer is a large bird, as big as a Jay, andj is only an occasional 
visitor in this country, and whose habits partake of those of the 
Crows and Woodpeckers. The propriety of its name is question- 
able, according to Yarrell, who says that ' it cannot crack nuts '. 
Here perhaps there may be some little mistake. Its name is 
evidently a translation of the French Cassenoix. In England we 
mean by ' nuts ' filberts or hazel-nuts ; but the French word 
noix is applied exclusively to walnuts, our nuts being noisettes, 
or ' little nuts ' ; and French authors are agreed that its food 
consists of insects, fruits, and walnuts ; that is, the ordinary 
diet of its relative, the Rook, whose fondness for walnuts is noto- 
rious. It lays its eggs in the holes of trees, and, except in the 
breeding season, is more or less gregarious in its habits. 



THE JAY 
gArrulus glandArius 

Feathers of the crest greyish white, streaked with black ; a black moustache 
from the corners of the beak ; general plumage reddish grey, darker 
above ; primaries dingy black ; secondaries velvet-black and pure white ; 
inner tertials rich chestnut ; winglet and greater coverts barred 
with black, white, and bright blue ; upper and under tail-coverts 
pure white ; iris bright blue ; beak black ; feet Uvid brown. Length 
thirteen and a half inches ; breadth twenty-two inches. Eggs dull green, 
minutely and thickly-speckled with oUve-brown. 

There exists among gamekeepers a custom of selecting a certain 
spot in preserved woods, and there suspending, as trophies of their 
skill and watchfulness, the bodies of such destructive animals 
as they have killed in the pursuit of their calling. They are gener- 
ally those of a few stoats or weasels, a Hawk, a Magpie, an owl, and 
two or three Jays. All these animals are judged to be destructive 
to game, and are accordingly hunted to the death, the Jay, perhaps, 
with less reason than the rest, for though it can hardly resist the 
temptation of plundering, either of eggs or young, any nest, whether 
of Partridge or Pheasant, that falls in its way, yet it does not sub- 
sist entirely upon animal food, but also upon acorns and various 
other wild fruits. Its blue feathers are much used in the manu- 
facture of artificial flies. Nevertheless, owing to their cautious 
and wary habits, there are few wooded districts in which they are 
not more or less numerous. Their jarring unconnected note, 
which characterizes them at all seasons, is in spring and summer 
varied by their song proper, in which I have never been able to 
detect anything more melodious than an accurate imitation of the 
noise made by sawyers at work, though Montagu states that ' it 
win, sometimes, in the spring utter a sort of song in a soft and 
pleasing manner, but so low as not to be heard at any distance ; 




Great Grey Shrike c? 
Red Backed Shrike S 



Woodchat Shrike <? 
Nutcracker <? 



[p. 58. 




Jay ? 



Raven 3' 
Magpie 2 



Chough 



THE MAGPIE 59 

and at Intervals introduces the bleating of a lamb, mewing of a 
cat, the note of a Kite or Buzzard, hooting of an Owl, or even neigh- 
ing of a horse. These imitations are so exact, even in a natural 
wild state, that we have frequently been deceived.' The Jay 
generally builds its nest in a wood, either in the top of a low tree, 
or against the trunk of a lofty one, employing as material small 
sticks, roots, and dry grass, and lays five eggs. There seems to 
be a difference of opinion as to the sociability of the family party 
after the young are fledged, some writers stating that they separate 
b)' mutual consent, and that each shifts for itself ; others, that the 
young brood remains with the old birds all the winter. For my own 
part, 1 scarcely recollect ever having seen a solitary Jay, or to have 
heard a note which was not immediately responded to by another 
bird of the same species, the inference from which is that, though 
not gregarious, they are at least social. 

When domesticated, the Jay displays considerable intelligence ; 
it is capable of attachment, and learns to distinguish the hand and 
voice of its benefactor. 



THE MAGPIE 

PICA RUSTICA 

Head, throat, neck, and back velvet-black ; scapulars and under plumage 
vhite ; tail much graduated and, as well as the wings, black, with lus- 
trous blue and bronze reflections ; beak, iris, and feet black. Length 
eighteen inches ; breadth twenty-three inches. Eggs pale dirty green, 
spotted all over with ash-grey and olive-brown. 

The Magpie, like the Crow, labours under the disadvantage of an 
ill name, and in consequence incurs no small amount of persecution. 
Owing to the disproportionate length of its tail and shortness of 
its wings its flight is somewhat heavy, so that if it were not cunning 
and wary to a remarkable degree, it would probably well-nigh dis- 
appear from the catalogue of British Birds. Yet though it is 
spared by none except avowed preservers of all birds (like Water- 
ton, who protects it * on account of its having nobody to stand 
up for it '), it continues to be a bird of general occurrence, and 
there seems indeed to be but little diminution of its numbers. Its 
nest is usually constructed among the upper branches of a lofty 
tree, either in a hedge-row or deep in a wood ; or if it has fixed its 
abode in an unwooded district, it selects the thickest thorn-bush 
in the neighbourhood and there erects its castle. This is com- 
posed of an outwork of thorns and briers supporting a mass of 
twigs and mud, which is succeeded by a layer of fibrous roots. 
The whole is not only fenced round but arched over with thorny 
sticks, an aperture being left, on one side only, large enough to 
admit the bird. In this stronghold are deposited generally six 



6o THE MAGPIE 

eggs, which ill due time are succeeded by as many young ogres, 
who are to be reared to birds by an unstinted supply of the most 
generous diet. Even before their appearance the old birds have 
committed no small havoc in the neighbourhood ; now, however, 
that four times as many mouths have to be filled, the hunting ground 
must either be more closely searched or greatly extended. Any 
one who has had an opportunity of watching the habits of a tame 
Magpie, must have observed its extreme inquisitiveness and skill 
in discovering what was intended to be concealed, joined, moreover, 
to an unscrupulous habit of purloining everything that takes its 
roving fancy. Even when surrounded by plenty and pampered 
with delicacies it prefers a stolen morsel to what is legally its own. 
Little wonder then that when it has to hunt on its own account for 
the necessaries of life, and is stimulated besides by the cravings 
of its hungry brood, it has gained an unenviable notoriety as a 
prowling bandit. In the harrying of birds' nests no schoolboy 
can compete with it ; Partridges and Pheasants are watched to 
their retreat and plundered mercilessly of their eggs and young ; 
the smaller birds are treated in like manner : hares and rabbits, 
if they suffer themselves to be surprised, have their eyes picked 
out and are torn to pieces ; rats, mice, and frogs are a lawful prey ; 
carrion, offal of all kinds, snails, worms, grubs, and caterpillars, 
each in turn pleasantly vary the diet ; and, when in season, grain 
and fruit are attacked with as much audacity as is consistent with 
safety ; and might, whenever available, give a right to stray 
chickens and ducklings. The young birds, nurtured in an impreg- 
nable stronghold, and famUiarized from their earliest days with 
plunder, having no song to learn save the note of caution and alarm 
when danger is near, soon become adepts in the arts of their parents, 
and, before their first moult, are a set of inquisitive, chattering 
marauders, wise enough to keep near the haunts of men because 
food is there most abundant, cautious never to come within reach 
of the fowling-piece, and cunning enough to carry off the call-bird 
from the net without falling themselves into the snare. Even 
in captivity, with all their drollery, they are unamiable. 

Magpies, though generally distributed, are far more numerous 
in some districts than others. In Cornwall they are very abund- 
ant ; hence I have heard them called Cornish Pheasants. In 
Ireland they are now very common. It is stated that they are 
in France more abundant than in any other country of Europe, 
where they principally build their nests in poplar-trees, having 
discovered, it is said, ' that the brittle nature of the boughs of this 
tree is an additional protection against climbers ! ' 'In Norway ', 
says a writer in the Zoologist } ' this bird, usually so shy in this 
country, and so difficult to approach within gunshot, seems to have 
entirely changed its nature : it is there the most domestic and 

» Vol. viii. p. 3085. 



THE JACKDAW 6l 

fearless bird ; its nest is invariably placed in a small tree or bush 
adjoining some farm or cottage, and not unfrequently in the very 
midst of some straggling village. If there happens to be a suitable 
tree by the roadside and near a house, it is a very favoiuable locality 
for a Norwegian Magpie's nest. I have often wondered to see the 
confidence and fearlessness displayed by this bird in Norway ; 
he wiU only just move out of your horse's way as you drive by 
him on the road, and should he be perched on a rail by the roadside 
he will only stare at you as you rattle by, but never think of moving 
off. It is very pleasant to see this absence of fear of man in Nor- 
wegian birds ; a Norwegian would never think of terrifying a bird 
for the sake of sport ; whilst, I fear, to see such a bird as the Magpie 
sitting quietly on a rail within a few feet, would be to an English 
boy a temptation for assault which he could not resist. I must 
add, however, with regard to Magpies, that there is a superstitious 
prejudice for them current throughout Norway ; they are con- 
sidered harbingers of good luck, and are consequently always 
invited to preside over the house ; and, when they have taken up 
their abode in the nearest tree, are defended from all ill ; and he 
who should maltreat the Magpie has perhaps driven off the genius 
loci, and so may expect the most furious anger of the neighbouring 
dwelling, whose good fortune he has thus violently dispersed.' 
Faith in the prophetic powers of the Magpie even yet lingers in 
many of the nu^al districts of England also. 



THE JACKDAW 

CORVUS MONEDULA 

Crown of the head and upper parts black, with violet reflections ; back of the 
head and nape grey ; lower parts duller black ; iris white ; beak and feet 
black. Length thirteen inches ; breadth twenty-seven inches. Eggs 
very light blue, with scattered spots of ash-colour and dark brown. 

This lively and active bird, inferior in size as well as dignity to the 
Rook, yet in many respects resembles it so closely that it might 
be fabled to have made the Rook its model, and to have exercised 
its imitative powers in the effort to become the object of its admira- 
tion. A vain effort, however ; for nature has given to it a slender 
form, a shriller voice, a partially grey mantle, and an instinct which 
compels it to be secretive even in the placing of its nest. Its 
note, which may be represented either by the syllable ' jack ' or 
' daw ', according to the fancy of the human imitator, sounds like 
an impertinent attempt to burlesque the full ' caw ' of the Rook ; 
it affects to be admitted into the society of that bird on equal 
terms ; but whether encouraged as a friend, or tolerated as a 
parasite whom it is less troublesome to treat with indifference than 
to chase away, is difficult to decide. Most probably the latter ; 



63 THE JACKDAW 

for although It Is common enough to see a party of Jackdaws danc- 
ing attendance on a flock of Rooks, accompanying them to their 
feeding-grounds, and nestling in hollow trunks of trees in close 
proximity to rookeries, they are neither courted nor persecuted ; 
they come when they like and go away when they please. On 
the other hand, no one, I believe, ever saw a flock of Rooks making 
the first advances towards an intimacy with a flock of Jackdaws, 
or heard of their condescending to colonize a grove, because their 
grey-headed relatives were located in the neighbourhood. On 
the sea-coast, where Rooks are only casual visitors, the Jackdaw 
has no opportunity of hanging himself on as an appendage to a 
rookery, but even here he must be a client. With the choice of a 
long range of cliff before him, he avoids that which he might have 
aHl to himself, and selects a portion which, either because it is shel- 
tered from storms, or inaccessible by climbers, has been already 
appropriated by Sea-mews. 

The object of the Jackdaw in making church-towers its resort 
is pretty evident. Where there is a church there is at least 
also a village, and where men and domestic animals congregate, 
there the Jackdaw fails not to find food ; grubs in the fields, fruit 
in the orchards, and garbage of all kinds in the waste ground. 
Here, too, it has a field for exercising its singular acquisitiveness. 
Wonderful is the variety of objects which it accumulates in its 
musehm of a nest, which, professedly a complication of sticks, may 
comprise also a few dozen labels stolen from a Botanic Garden, an 
old tooth-brush, a child's cap, part of a worsted stocking, a frill, etc. 
Waterton,^ who strongly defends it from the charge of molesting 
either the eggs or young of pigeons, professes himself unable to 
account for its pertinacious habit of collecting sticks for a nest 
placed where no such support is seemingly necessary, and, cunning 
though it is, comments on its want of adroitness in introducing sticks 
into its hole : ' You may see the Jackdaw ', he says, ' trying for 
a quarter of an hour to get a stick into the hole, while every attempt 
will be futile, because, the bird having laid hold of it by the middle, 
it is necessarily thrown at right angles with the body, and the 
Daw cannot perceive that the stick ought to be nearly parallel 
with its body before it can be conveyed into the hole. Fatigued 
at length with repeated efforts, and completely foiled in its number- 
less attempts to introduce the stick, it lets it fall to the ground, 
and immediately goes in quest of another, probably to experience 
another disappointment on its return. When time and chance 
have enabled it to place a quantity of sticks at the bottom of the 
hole, it then goes to seek for materials of a more pliant and a softer 
nature.' These are usually straw, wool, and feathers ; but, as we 
have seen, nothing comes amiss that catches its fancy. In addition 

> Essays on Natural History, First Series, p. 109. 



THE RAVEN «S 

to rocks, towers, and hollow trees, it sometimes places its nest in 
chimneys or in rabbit-burrows, but never, or in the rarest instances, 
among the open boughs of a tree. It lays from four to six eggs, 
and feeds its young on worms and insects, which it brings home in 
the pouch formed by the loose skin at the base of its beak. When 
domesticated, its droll trickeries and capability of imitating the 
human voice and other sounds are well known. By turns affection- 
ate, quarrelsome, impudent, confiding, it is always inquisitive, 
destructive, and given to purloining ; so that however popular at 
first as a pet, it usually terminates its career by some unregretted 
accident, or is consigned to captivity in a wicker cage. 



THE RAVEN 

coRvus c6rax 

Plumage black with purple reflections ; tail rounded, black, extending two 
inches beyond the closed wings ; beak strong, black as well as the feet ; 
iris with two circles, the inner grey, the outer ash-brown. Length twenty- 
five inches ; width four feet. Eggs dirty green, spotted and speckled 
with brown. 

The Raven, the largest of the Corvidae, and possessing in an emin- 
ent degree all the characteristics of its tribe except sociability, is 
the bird which beyond all others has been regarded with feelings 
of awe by the superstitious in all ages. In both instances in which 
specific mention of it occurs in Holy Writ, it is singled out from 
among other birds as gifted with a mysterious intelligence. Sent 
forth by Noah when the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat, 
it perhaps found a congenial home among the lonely crags strewed 
with the carcases of drowned animals, and by failing to return, 
announced to the patriarch that a portion of the earth, though not one 
fit for his immediate habitation, was uncovered by the waters. At 
a subsequent period, honoured with the mission of supplying the 
persecuted prophet with food, it was taught to suppress its voracious 
instinct by the God who gave it. The Raven figures prominently 
in most heathen mythologies, and is almost everywhere regarded 
with awe by the ignorant even at the present time. In Scandinavian 
mythology it was an important actor ; and all readers of Shake- 
speare must be familiar with passages which prove it to have been 
regarded as a bird of dire omen. 

The sad presaging Raven tolls 
The sick man's passport in her hollow beak. 
And in the shadow of the silent night 
Doth shake contagion from her sable wing. 

Marlowe. 

In the Judgment of others, its friendly mission to the Tishbite 
invested it with a sanctity which preserved it from molestation. 



64 THE RAVEN 

Apart from all traditional belief, the Raven derives its ill-omened 
character as a herald of death from the rapidity with which it dis- 
cerns, in the vicinity of its haunts, the carcase of any dead animal. 
In the coldest winter days, at Hudson's Bay, when every kind of 
effluvium is greatly checked if not arrested by frost, buffaloes and 
other beasts have been killed when not one of these birds was to 
be seen ; but in a few hours scores of them have been found col- 
lected about the spot to pick up the blood and offal. ' In Ravens ', 
says a writer in the Zoologist, ' the senses of smell and sight are 
remarkably acute and powerful. Perched usually on some tall 
clif! that commands a wide survey, these faculties are in constant 
and rapid exercises, and all the movements of the bird are regulated 
in accordance with the information thus procured. The smell of 
death is so grateful to them that they utter a loud croak of satisfac- 
tion instantly on perceiving it. In passing any sheep, if a tainted 
smell is perceptible, they cry vehemently. From this propensity 
in the Raven to announce his satisfaction in the smell of death has 
probably arisen the common notion that he is aware of its approach 
among the human race, and foretells it by his croakings.' The same 
observant author, as quoted by Macgillivray, says again : ' Their 
sight and smell are very acute, for when they are searching the 
wastes for provision, they hover over them at a great height ; 
and yet a sheep will not be dead many minutes before they will 
find it. Nay, if a morbid smell transpire from any in the flock, they 
wiU watch it for days tiU it die.' 

To such repasts they are guided more by scent than by sight, 
for though they not unfrequently ascend to a great height in the 
air, they do not then appear to be on the look-out for food. This 
duty is performed more conveniently and with greater success by 
beating over the ground at a low elevation. In these expeditions 
they do not confine themselves to carrion, but prey indiscriminately 
on all animals which they are quick enough to capture and strong 
enough to master. Hares, rabbits, rats, mice, lizards, game of vari- 
ous lands, eggs, and the larger insects, all of these enter into their 
diet, and, wanting these, they resort to the sea-shore for refuse 
fish, or ransack dunghills in villages, before the inhabitants are astir, 
for garbage of all sorts. Pliny even relates that in a certain district 
of Asia Minor they were trained to hawk for game like the noble 
Falcons. Few of these qualifications tend to endear them to man- 
kind ; and as they are dreaded by shepherds on account of their 
being perhaps more than suspected of making away with sickly 
lambs when occasion offers, and of plundering poultry yards. Ravens 
are become, in populous districts, almost unknown birds. I have 
only seen them myself on the rocky sea-shore of Devon and Cornwall, 
in the wilds of Dartmoor, and the Highlands of Scotland. There 
was for many successive years a nest bmlt on a ledge of granite 
near the Bishop Rock, In CorawaJl, a huge mass of sticls, and 



THE CARRION CROW 65 

Vv hat appeared to be grass, inaccessible from below, but commanded 
by a venturous climber from above. Where it still continues to 
breed inland, it places its nest, constructed of sticks and lined 
with the wool and fur of its victims, either on an inaccessible rock, 
or near the summit of a lofty tree, the ill-omened ' Raven-tree ' 
of romances. In the north of Scotland, in the Orkne)^ and Heb- 
rides, where it is still abundant, it builds its nest in cliffs which it 
judges to be inaccessible, both inland and on the sea-shore, showing 
no marked preference for either. Two pairs never frequent the 
same locality, nor is any other bird of prey permitted to establish 
itself in their vicinity. Even the Eagle treats the Raven with 
respect, and leaves it to its solitude, not so much from fear of its 
prowess, as worn out by its pertinacious resistance of all dangerous 
Intruders. Hence, in some districts, shepherds encourage Ravens, 
because they serve as a repeUant to Eagles ; while m others, where 
Eagles are of unusual occurrence, they allow them to build their 
nests undisturbed, but when the young are almost fledged, destroy 
them by throwing stones at them from above. Nevertheless the 
original pair continues to haunt the same locality for an indefinite 
term of years, and it is not a little singular that if one of them 
be killed, the survivor wUl find a mate in an incredibly short space 
of time. 

The geographical range of the Raven is very extensive. Through- 
out all the zones of the Northern Hemisphere it is to be found ; 
and having this wide range, its physical constitution is strong, and 
it lives to a great age, amounting, so the ancients tell us, to twenty- 
seven times the period of a man's life. The note of the Raven is 
well described by the word ' croak ', but it is said by those who have 
had the opportunity of observing it under various circumstances, 
to utter another sound, resembling the word ' whii-ur '. With this 
cry it very commonly intermixes another, sounding like ' clung ', 
uttered very much as by a human voice, only a little wilder in the 
sound. From the cry croak the Raven no doubt derives its 
Latin name Corvus the French Corbeau, and its common Scotch 
appellation Corbie. 

THE CARRION CROW 

CORVUS CORONE 

Black, with green and violet reflections ; tail slightly rounded, extending an 
inch and a quarter beyond the closed wings ; iris dark hazel ; lower part 
of the beak covered with bristly feathers ; beak and feet black. Length 
nineteen inches ; breadth three feet. Eggs bluish green, spotted and 
speckled with ash-grey and olive. 

Breeding early in the year, like the Raven, the Carrion Crow builds 
its nest in some tree which, from its loftiness or other reason, is 
difficult of ascent, where its young ones are hatched about the 

B.B. F 



66 THE CARRION CROW 

time that most other birds are laying their eggs, and when the 
lambing season is at its height. Then, too, its habits are most 
fully developed. Its young are clamorous for food, and will not 
be satisfied with a httle. So the old bird sallies forth to scour the 
districts least frequented by man, and makes every living thing 
its prey, provided that by force or cunning it can overpower it. 
If Grouse are plentiful, it is said that one pair, what with stealing 
the eggs and carrying off the young, will in a season destroy more 
of them than the keenest sportsman. It will pounce on the leveret 
and bear it screaming from the side of its mother. It watclies 
sheep which have strayed from the fold, and mangles the newly- 
born or weakly lambs, carrying them piece-meal to the young 
ones at home. If mowers are at work, the wary birds alight 
on some lofty tree, taking care to keep at a sale distance, and 
when a nest has been laid bare by the scythe, their incredibly 
sharp eye discerns the prize which, whether it consist of eggs or 
callow young, is borne off in triumph. Lest their depredations 
should be discovered by the accumulation of egg-sheUs, feathers 
and bones, which are the natural consequence of these raids, they 
carefully carry to some distance everything that would tend to 
betray them, so that one might pass directly beneath the scene of 
these enormities unsuspicious of the evil existing overhead. Keen 
as this bird is in pursuit of such delicate fare, he can be, when occa- 
sion serves, as unclean a feeder as the Vulture, and he can, on the 
other hand, make a meal off corn. Mr. Knox states that in the 
Weald of Sussex, where the Raven is common, it resorts to the brooks 
and ponds, which abound in fresh-water mussels {Anodon), and 
feeds on them most voraciously, especially after floods, when they 
lie scattered on the mud. The same author states that in winter it 
resorts to the sea-shore, and feeds on the oysters, mussels, small 
crabs, marine insects, worms, and dead fish which are cast up by 
the waves during the prevalent south-westerly storms. It has been 
frequently observed, he adds, to ascend to a great height in the 
air with an oyster in its claws, and after letting it faU on the beach, 
to descend rapidly with closed pinions and devour the contents. 
A simUar instance of apparent reasoning is recorded of the same bird 
by Phny, but with the substitution of walnuts for oysters. 

With such wandering habits, it seems at first sight strange that 
the phrase ' as the Crow flies ' should be adopted to mark distances 
in a straight line across the open country ; yet when it is borne in 
mind how many persons confound the Crow with the Rook, and 
even talk of the ' Crows in a rookery ', the suggestion wiH at once 
occur to the mind that the term owed its origin to its far gentler 
and more respectable relation, the Rook, whose evening flights 
from the feeding-ground are among the most familiar sights of the 
country, and are invariably performed in a line so straight, that 
if a whole flock could be tracked through the air on any one evening 



THE HOODED CROW 67 

it would be found scarcely to deviate from that of the preceding 
or the following. It is to be feared that this inaccurate application 
of names has done the Rook ill service ; yet the two birds are 
totally distinct. Crows are solitary birds, rarely being seen 
in more than pairs together ; Rooks are eminently sociable. Crows 
shun the haunts of men ; Rooks court the vicinity of his dwellings. 
Crows are carnivorous ; Rooks feed principally on the grubs of 
beetles, worms, and noxious insects, rewarding themselves occa- 
sionally for their services by regaling on corn and fruits, but rarely 
touching carrion or molesting living animals. In appearance the two 
birds are much alike ; the Crow, nowever, is somewhat smaller, the 
beak is stouter at the point and encircled at the base with numerous 
short feathers, while the biU of the Rook is encroached on by a 
white membrane which is almost bare of feathers. Both are noted 
for their intelligence ; the Crow has been known to remove its eggs 
from its nest when apprehensive ot danger ; it was held in high 
consideration in the days of augury, and certain of its movements 
were considered to be indicative of changes in the weather. It 
builds its nest of sticks, and lines it with moss, straw, hair, and 
wool, and lays from four to six eggs. Like the Raven, it is a widely- 
diffused bird, and attains a great age, outliving (the ancients said) 
nine generations of men, showing great attachment to any spot in 
which it has once fixed its home, and suffering neither its own 
progeny nor any other large oirds to nestle in its vicinity. 

This Crow is becoming more numerous of late in the close vicinity 
of London. It comes constantly to some of our suburban gardens. 



THE HOODED CROW, GREY OR ROYSTON CROW 

CORVUS CORNIX 

Head, throat, wings and tail black, the rest of the plumage ash-grey ; tail 
rounded ; beak and feet black ; iris brown. Length nineteen and a half 
inches ; breadth three feet two inches. Eggs bluish green, mottled with 
ash-grey and ohve. 

The Hooded Crow closely resembles the Carrion Crow, scarcely 
differing from it in fact except in colour. They are, however, per- 
fectly distinct species, and for the most part exercise their calling 
in separate haunts. In Norway Hooded Crows are very abundant, 
to the almost total exclusion of the Carrion Crow and Rook, and, 
though not congregating so as to form a society hke the last-named 
bird, they may be seen simultaneously employed in searching for 
food in groups which collectively amount to a hundred or 
more. Though numerous in the winter at Newmarket Heath 
and Royston (where they are sometimes called Royston Crows), 
and annually resorting to many parts of the sea-coast, they rarely 
breed so far south. In the Isle of Man, the Orkneys, Hebrides, 



68 THE ROOK 

and in all but the south of Scotland they are of more frequent 
occurrence than any other of the tribe, essentially belonging to the 
' Land of the mountain and the flood '. It is on the increase in 
Ireland and very unwelcome there. One can scarcely traverse 
the shores of the salt-water lochs of Scotland without seeing a 
pair, or, in the latter part of the year, a small party of four or five 
of these birds, gravely pacing the shingle and sand in quest of food. 
As far as my own experience goes, I should consider the Hooded 
Crow as ' half sea-bird ', but it is said to be met with, in summer, 
in the very centre of the Grampians and other inland districts. 
Its proper diet consists of the smaller marine animals, such as 
crabs, echini, and molluscs, alive or dead, fish and carrion. At 
high-water it retires inland, and skulks about the low grounds 
in quest of the eggs and young of Moor-fowl, thereby gaining the 
execrations of gamekeepers ; takes a survey of any adjacent sheep- 
wallcs, on the chance of falling in with a new-bom lamb, or sickly 
ewe, whence it has but an ill name among shepherds ; and returns 
when the tide has well ebbed, to finish the day's repast on food 
of a nature light and easy of digestion. It is less wary of man than 
the Carrion Crow, and often comes within shot, but, being far too 
numerous to admit of being exterminated, is but little assailed. 
In the comparatively mild climate of the Scottish sea-coast, these 
birds find an abundant supply of food all the year round and as there 
is no sensible diminution of their numbers in winter, it is supposed that 
those which frequent the English coast from October to March 
have been driven southwards by the inclement winters of high 
latitudes. They are then frequently observed on the coast of 
Norfolk and Sussex in parties of thirty or more, and it has been 
remarked that the hunting, grounds of the two species are defined 
by singularly precise limits, the neighbourhood of Chichester being 
frequented by the Carrion Crow, that of Brighton by its congener. 
It is abundant on the sea-coast of Norfolk in the winter, where I 
have seen it feeding with Gulls, Plovers, etc. In musical capa- 
bilities it Is inferior even to its relative, its solitary croak being 
neither so loud nor so clear. The nest of the Hooded Crow is large, 
composed of twigs, sea-weeds, heath, feathers, and straws, and is 
placed on rocks, tall trees, low bushes, and elsewhere, accord- 
ing to circumstances. 

THE ROOK 

CORVUS FRUGILEGUS 

Plumage black, with purple and violet reflections ; base of the beak, nostrils ; 
and region round the beak bare of feathers and covered with a white scurf, 
iris greyish white ; beak and feet black. Length eighteen inches ; breadth 
three feet. Eggs pale green, thickly blotched with oUve and dark-brown. 

As the Hooded Crow is essentially the type of the Corvidae in 




Jackdaw J 
Hodded Crow J 



Rook 
Crow ^ 



[p. 68. 




Pied Flycatcher 6 mini. 6 

Greenfinch i vonng 9 



Spotted Flycatcher 9 
Waxwing 6 6 



THE ROOK 69 

Scandinavia and the Isles of Scotland, where the Carrion Crow 
and Rook are all but unknown, so in England the representative 
of the tribe is the Rook, a bird so like the Crow that it is called 
by its name almost as frequently as by its own, yet so different 
in habits that, instead of being under a perpetual and universal 
ban, it is ever5Avhere encouraged and indeed all but domesticated. 
There are few English parks that do not boast of their rookery, 
and few proprietors of modem demesnes pretending to be parks, who 
would not purchase at a high price the air of antiquity and respect- 
ability connected with an established colony of these birds. Owing 
to their large size and the familiarity with which they approach 
the haunts of men, they afford a facility in observing their habits 
which belongs to no other birds ; hence aU treatises on Natural 
History, and other publications which enter into the details of 
country hfe in England, abound in anecdotes of the Rook. Its 
intelligence, instinctive appreciation of danger, voracity, its utility 
or the reverse, its nesting, its morning repasts and its evening 
flights, have all been observed and more or less faithfully recorded 
again and again ; so that its biography is better known than that 
of any other British bird. It would be no difi&cult task to compile 
from these materials a good-sized volume, yet I doubt not that 
enough remains untold, or at least not sufficiently authenticated, 
to furnish a fair field of inquiry to any competent person who 
would undertake to devote his whole attention to this one bird for 
a considerable period of time. Such a biographer should make 
himself master of aU that has been recorded by various authorities, 
and should then visit a large number of rookeries in aU parts of 
the kingdom, collecting and sifting evidence, making a series of 
personal observations, and spreading his researches over all seasons 
of the year. Such an inquiry, trivial though it may seem, would 
be most useful, for the Rook, though it has many friends, 
has also many enemies, and, being everywhere abundant, its 
agency for good or evil must have serious results. The following 
account being imperfect from want of space, the reader who wishes 
to know more about this interesting bird must refer to our standard 
works on Ornithology, and, above all, record and compare his 
own personal observations. 

In the early spring months Rooks subsist principally on the 
larvae and worms turned up by the plough, and without gainsay, 
they are then exceedingly serviceable to the agriculturist, by 
destroying a vast quantity of noxious insects which, at this period 
of their growth, feed on the leaves or roots of cultivated vegetables. 
Experience has taught them that the ploughman either has not the 
power or the desire to molest them ; they therefore approach 
the plough with perfect fearlessness, and show much rivalry in their 
efforts to be first to secure the treasures just turned up. During 
the various processes to which the groimd is subjected in prepara- 



76 THE ROOK 

tion for the crop, they repeat their visits, spreading more widely 
over the field, and not only pick up the grubs which lie on the sur- 
face, but bore for such as, by certain signs best known to themselves, 
lie concealed. I need not say that in all these stages the wisdom 
of the farmer is to offer them every inducement to remain ; all that 
they ask is to be let alone. Not so, however, when the seed-crop 
is sown. Grain, pulse, and potatoes are favourite articles of diet 
with them, and they will not fail to attack these as vigorously as they 
did the grubs a few days before. They are therefore undeniably 
destructive at this season, and all available means should be adopted 
to deter them from alighting on cultivated ground. About the 
second week in March they desert the winter roosting places, to which 
they had nightly congregated in enormous flocks, leave ofi their 
wandering habits, and repair as if by common consent to their 
old breeding places. Here, with much cawing and bustling, they 
survey the ruins of their old nests, or select sites for new ones, 
being guided by their instinct to avoid all those trees the upper 
branches of which are too brittle for their purpose either because 
the trees are sickly or in an incipient state of decay. Hence, when 
it has occasionally happened that a nestless tree in a rookery has 
been blown down, the birds have been saluted as prophets, while 
in reality the tree yielded to the blast before its fellows because 
it was unsound, the Rooks knowing nothing about the matter 
except that signs of decay had set in among the upper twigs while 
as yet all seemed solid beneath. How the birds squabble about 
their nests, how they punish those thievishly disposed, how they 
drive away intruders from strange rookeries, how scrupulously they 
avoid, during building, to pick up a stick that has chanced to drop, 
how the male bird during incubation feeds his mate with the most 
luscious grubs brought home in the baggy pouch at the base of 
his bill, how every time that a bird caws while perched he strains 
his whole body forward and expands his wings with the effort, all 
these things, and many more, I must pass over without further 
notice, leaving them to be verified by the reader with the help of 
a good field-glass. I must, however, mention, in passing, the 
custom so genercdly adopted by sportsmen, of shooting the 
young birds as soon as they are sufficiently fledged to climb 
from their nests to the adjoining twigs, or to perform their 
first tentative flight over the summits of the trees. It is 
supposed to be necessary to keep down their numbers, but this 
is a disputed point. I have, however, little doubt that Rooks 
during the whole of their Uves associate the memory of these 
battues with the appearance of a man armed with a gun. Many 
people believe that Rooks know the smell of powder : they have 
good reason to know it ; but that they are as much alarmed at 
the sight of a stick as a gun in the hand of a man, may be proved 
by any one who, chancing to pass near a flock feeding on the 



THE ROOK 71 

ground, suddenly raises a stick. They will instantly fly off, 
evidently in great alarm. 

While the young are being reared, the parent birds frequent 
corn-fields and meadows, where they search about for those plants 
which indicate the presence of a grub at the root. Such they 
unscrupulously uproot, and make a prize of the destroyer concealed 
beneath. They are much maligned for this practice, but without 
reason ; for, admitting that they kill the plant as well as the grub, it 
must be borne in mind that several of the grubs on which they feed 
(cockchafer and daddy-longlegs) live for several years underground, 
and that, during that period, they would if left undisturbed, have 
committed great ravages. I have known a large portion of a bed 
of lettuces destroyed by a single grub of Melolontha, having actually 
traced its passage underground from root to root, and found it 
devouring the roots of one which appeared as yet unhurt. Clearly, 
a Rook would have done me a service by uprooting the first lettuce, 
and capturing its destroyer. 

I must here advert to a peculiar characteristic of the Rook 
which distinguishes it specifically from the Crow. The skin sur- 
rounding the base of the bill, and covering the upper part of the 
throat, is, in the adult birds, denuded of feathers. Connected 
with this subject many lengthy arguments have been proposed 
in support of two distinct opinions : one, that the bareness above 
mentioned is occasioned by the repeated borings of the bird for its 
food ; the other, that the feathers fall off naturally at the first 
moult, and are never replaced. I am inclined to the latter view, 
and that for two reasons : first, if it be necessary (and that is not at 
all clear) that the Rook, in order to supply itself with food, should 
have no feathers at the base of its bill, I believe that nature would 
not have resorted to so clumsy a contrivance, and one so annoying 
to the bird, as that of wearing them away bit by bit : and, secondly, 
the bare spot is, as far as I have observed, of the same size and 
shape in all birds, and at all periods of the year, a imiformity which 
can scarcely be the result of digging in soUs of various kinds, and 
at all seasons. I cannot, therefore, but think that the appearance 
in question is the result of a law in the natural economy of the 
bird, that the feathers are not rubbed off, but fall off, and that 
they are not renewed, because nature never intended that they 
should grow there permanently ; if not, why is there no 
similar abrasion in the Crow ? The number of lambs eaten by 
Crows is very small after all, ana oirds' eggs are not always in 
season, nor is carrion so very abundant ; so that, during a great 
portion of the year, even Crows must dig for their livelihood, and 
the great distinction between a Crow and a Rook is, that the former 
has actually no bare space at the base of his bill. But the question 
is still open, and the reader may make his own observations, which 
in Natural History, as well as in many other things, are far better 
than other people's theories. 



7i THE ROOK 

In very dry summer weather, Rooks are put to great shifts In 
obtaining food. Grubs and worms descend to a great depth to get 
beyond the influence of the drought, and the soil is too parched 
and hard for digging ; they then retire to the sea-shore, to marshes, 
fresh-water and salt, to cabbage and potato gardens, and in the last- 
named localities they are again disposed to become marauders. 
To fruit gardens they are rarely permitted to resort, or they would 
commit great ravages. As the season advances, ripe walnuts are a 
very powerful attraction, and when they have discovered a tree well 
supplied with fruit, a race ensues between them and the proprietor 
as to which shall appropriate the greater share, so slily do they 
watch for opportunities, and so quick are they in gathering them 
and carr5dng them off in their beaks. In long winter frosts, or 
when the ground is covered with snow, they are again reduced to 
straits. Some resort to the sea-shore and feed on garbage of all 
kinds, some to turnip-fields where they dig holes in the bulbs. 
They have also been observed to chase and kill small birds, which, 
as near starvation as themselves, have been unable to fly beyond 
their reach, and I have even seen a Rook catch a small fish. 

I must not conclude this imperfect sketch without noticing a 
peculiar habit of Rooks, which is said to portend rain. A flock 
will suddenly rise into the air almost perpendicularly, with great 
cawing and curious antics, until they have reached a great elevation, 
and then, having attained their object, whatever that may be, 
drop with their wings almost folded till within a short distance of 
the ground, when they recover their propriety, and alight either 
on trees or on the ground with their customary grave demeanour. 
Occasionally in autumn, as White of Selborne remarks, 

Sooth'd by the genial warmth, the cawing Rook 
Anticipates the spring, selects her mate, 
Haunts her tall nests, and with sedulous care 
Repairs her wicker eyrie, tempest torn. 

Similar instances of this unseasonable pairing are recorded by 
modern ornithologists. 

Efforts are sometimes made, and not always unsuccessfully, to 
induce Rooks to establish a colony in a new locality. One plan 
is to place some eggs taken from a Rook's nest in that of some large 
bird which has happened to build in the desired spot, that of a 
Crow for instance, a Magpie, Jackdaw, Jay, or perhaps a Mistle 
Thrush. If the young are reared, it is probable that they will return 
to breed in the same place in the following year. Another plan 
which has been tried with success is to place several bundles of 
sticks, arranged in the form of nests, among the highest branches 
of the trees which it is desired to colonize. Stray Rooks in quest 
of a settlement, mistaking these for ruins of old nests, accept the 
invitation and establish themselves if the locality suits tiiem in 
other respects. 



THE GREAT GREY SHRIKE 73 

During 1907-1908 the economic r61e played by the Rook has been 
thoroughly investigated by ornithologists and farmers all over 
Hungary, with the results that this bird stands as a friend rather 
than a foe to agriculture. 



FAMILY LANIIDiE 
THE GREAT GREY SHRIKE 

LANIUS EXCUBITOR 

Head, nape, and back, bright ash grey ; a broad black band beneath the eyes ; 
under plumage pure white ; wings short, black ; bcise of the primaries and 
tips of the secondaries white ; tail with the two middle feathers black, 
and the outer on each side white with a black spot at the base, the rest 
black and white ; bill and feet black. Female of a more dingy hue 
above ; below dull white, the proportion of black in the feathers increas- 
ing as they approach the middle ; each feather of the breast terminating 
in a crescent-shaped ash grey spot. Length ten inches ; breadth fourteen 
inches. Eggs bluish white, spotted at the larger end with two shades of 
brown. Sylvan. Young barred below. 

The family of Shrikes, or Butcher-birds, would seem to occupy 
an intermediate station between birds of prey and insectivorous 
birds. The subject of the present chapter especially, though 
little resembling a Hawk in appearance, has, on stccount of its habits, 
some pretension to be ranked among birds of prey ; from which, 
however, it differs in the essential particular that, as well as the 
rest of the family, it seizes and carries off its prey with its beak 
and not with its claws. Although a fairly common visitor from 
autumn to spring this Shrike does not ureed with us, and is rarer 
in Ireland. It derives its name excuhitor (sentinel) from its favourite 
habit of posting itself on the topmost twig of a poplar or other lofty, 
tree, whence it keeps up a v/atchful look-out, not only for its prey, 
but for any bird of the Hawk tribe, against which it wages incessant 
and deadly hostility. When it descries one of these birds, which 
it does at a great distance, it utters a shriek, as if for the purpose 
of giving an alarm, a cry which is instantly repeated by aU birds 
of the same species which happen to be within hearing. This 
antipathy against birds of prey is taken advantage of by fowlers 
in France, who, when setting their nets for hawks, take with them 
a ' sentinel ' Shrike and station it near the living bird, which they 
employ as a lure. So rapid is the swoop of the Falcon that but for 
the warning cry of the Shrike it would descend and carry off its 
victim before the fowler had time to close his nets ; but the keen 
eye of the sentinel detects, and his shrUl cry announces, the 
approach of his enemy, and the fowler has time to prepare. The 
principal food of this bird appears to be mice, frogs, lizards and 



74 tHE RED BACKED SHRIKE 

insects, especially the stag-beetle and grasshopper, though in Its 
natural state it will capture and destroy any birds inferior to 
itself in strength and courage. Its name Lanius (Latin for 
butcher) and Butcher-bird were given to it from its habit 
of impaling beetles and small birds on thorns in the vicinity 
of its nest. Its flight is peculiar, being composed of a series 
of dips, like that of the Wagtail ; and when it quits its perch on 
the summit of one tall tree to fly to another, it drops and rises 
again so as to form a curve like that of a loose rope hung from two 
tall masts. Another peculiarity of the Shrike is a remarkable power 
of imitating the song of other birds, which it is said to exercise in 
order to obtain its food more easUy, by beguiling the nestlings of 
the smaller birds into answering it by a chirrup, and so betraying 
their retreat. The notes which it has been observed to imitate are 
those of the Nightingale, Robin, Swallow, and Stone-chat. Its 
proper note is harsh, resembling somewhat that of the Kestrel, 
Shake-sJuike ! the call note is truii ! Of the Lesser Grey Shrike, 
Lanius minor, there have been few occurrences in these Islands. 



LESSER GREY SHRIKE 

LANIUS MINOR 
Grey above : breast and flanks roseate ; wing-bar white. 

Of this species only four occurrences recorded until recently — in 
Scilly Islands, Norfolk and Devon. 



THE RED-BACKED SHRIKE 

LANIUS COLLURIO 

Head, nape, shoulders and upper tail-coverts ash-grey, a black band reaching 
from the gape to beyond the ears ; back, scapulars, and wing-coverts 
reddish brown ; throat white, passing into rose-red on the breast and 
flanks ; wings blackish, edged with reddish brown • tail nearly even at 
the end, four middle feathers black tipped with reddish grey, the rest 
white from the base through two-thirds of their length, the other third 
black with a white tip ; second primary longer than the fifth. Female — 
upper plumage rusty brown, tinged near the nape and tail with ash- 
grey ; lower white, the sides barred transversely by narrow curved lines ; 
outer webs and tips of the outer tail feathers yellowish white, four middle 
ones uniform dusky brown. Length seven inches ; breadth eleven 
inches. Eggs cream-coloured, greenish, or delicate grey variously 
mottled and spotted with light brown and ash-grey. 

The Red-backed Shrike, though not generally diffused throughout 
England, is to certain localities a far from uncommon wanderer, 
but for some reason it has been scarce in 1908. In the wooded 



THE RED-BACKED SHRIKE ;j 

districts of the midland and southern counties many specimens 
may be annually observed, and the nest is of frequent occurrence. 
This is usually placed a few feet from the ground, in the middle 
of a thick bush or hedge ; and, very unlike that of the rapacious 
birds, is a massive, well-built structure of twigs, dry grass, and 
moss, lined with hair and fine roots. This bird is called in France 
I'ecorcheur (the flayer), from the custom ascribed to it of skinning 
the bodies of its victims before devouring them. Its habits and 
food are similar to those of the last species, and it is said also to 
possess the same imitative power. That it impales insects and 
even young birds on thorns there can be no doubt as it has been 
watched by a competent observer in the very act of thus dealing 
with the carcase of a hedge-sparrow, 

A professional bird-catcher told how a Red-backed Shrike once 
pounced on one of his call-birds (a linnet), and attempted to carry it 
off ; but being prevented from doing so by the linnet being fastened to 
the ground by a string and wooden peg, the Shrike tore off the head 
of its victim, with which it made its escape. The bird-catcher then 
drew out from the ground the peg which held down the linnet, and 
left the dead bird lying in the net. In about half an hour the 
Shrike again appeared, pounced upon the body of the dead linnet, 
and carried it off in its beak, with the string and peg hanging to it ; 
the weight of the latter was probably the cause of the Shrike not 
carrying its prey quite away, as it dropped it after flying about 
fifteen yards, when the bird-catcher again picked up the dead 
linnet, and replaced it in the net. The Shrike in the meantime 
retreated to some neighbouring bushes, from which it soon made 
a third pounce upon the nets, this time attacking the second 
caU-bird, which was a sparrow. On this occasion, however, the 
bird-catcher was on the watch, and, drawing his nets, captured the 
Shrike, which proved to be an adult female.' This daring act was 
observed late in the month of June, when, perhaps, the courage of 
the mother bird was unusually excited by the cravings of her 
brood at home, and further stimulated by the impression that the 
call-birds were in trouble, and consequently offered an easy prey. 

An amiable trait in the character of this Shrike is its attachment 
to its mate and young. A female has been known to approach so 
close to the cage in which her captured lord was confined, that she 
was herself easily taken ; and when a nest of young birds is molested, 
both parents defend their offspring with astonishing intrepidity. 

The Red-backed Shrike is known to us only as a summer visitor, 
departing early in autumn. Its note is a harsh chuck 1 but the 
song of the mate is somewhat pleasant. 



76 THE WAX WING 

WOODCHAT SHRIKE 

LANIUS POMERANUS 

Forehead and checks black ; nape bright rust colour ; back and wings varie- 
gated with black, white, and reddish brown ; under parts white ; outer 
tail feathers white, with a square black spot at the base on the inner web, 
the two next wth the black spot larger, and on both webs, the two middle 
ones wholly black, the rest black tipped with white ; tail slightly rounded ; 
second primary equal in length to the fifth. Female — all her colours 
dingy ; breast marked transversely with fine brown hnes. Length, seven 
and a half inches. Eggs bluish white, spotted at the larger end with 
brown and ash-grey. 

The habits of this bird, which is a very rare visitant to the British 
Isles, differ in no material respect from those of the foregoing 
species. On the Continent it is more frequent in the south than 
the north, where it frequents trees rather than bushes, and gener- 
ally places its nest, which it constructs of twigs, moss, and white 
lichen, in the forked branch of an oak. Like the rest of the family 
it is migratory, coming and departing at the same time as the other 
species. 



FAMILY AMPELID.E 
THE WAXWING 

AMPELIS GARRULUS 

Feathers of the head elongated, forming a crest ; upper plumage purplish 
red ; lower the same, but of a lighter tint ; throat and lore black ; greater 
wing-coverts black, tipped with white ; primaries black, with a yellow 
or white angular spot near the extremity, six or eight of the secondaries 
and tertiaries having the shaft prolonged and terminating in a substance 
resembhng red sealing-wax ; tail black, tipped with yellow. Length 
eight inches. Eggs pale blue, with a few streaks of brown and lilac. 

The Waxwing is an elegant bird, of about the size of a Thrush. 
It visits this country, and in fact every other European country 
where it is known at all, at irregular intervals, generally in flocks, 
which vary in number from eight or ten to some scores. Thus it 
is everywhere a stranger ; and little was known till recently of its 
nesting habits. It is perhaps on account of this ignorance of its 
natural history, that it has borne a variety of names which are as 
inappropriate as possible. Temminck describes it under the name 
Bombycivora, or devourer of Bombyx, a large moth, a name quite 
unfit for a bird which lives exclusively on fruits and hemes. This 
was softened into Bombycilla, which means, I presume, a little 
Bombyx, though the bird in question is far larger than any known 
moth. Its French name Jaseur, equivalent to the English one, 
Chatterer, is quite as inappropriate, as it is singularly silent. In 
default of aU certain information, then, I venture to surmise that, 
coming in parties no one knows whence, and going no one knows 



THE SPOTTED FLYCATCHER 77 

whither, they may have received the name Bohemian, because 
they resemble in their habits the wandering tribes of gipsies, who 
were formerly called indifferently Egyptians and Bohemians. 
Taken in this sense, the Bohemian or Wandering Waxwing, as it 
used to be called, is a name open to no exception. The plumage 
of the bird is silky, and that of the head is remarkable for forming 
a crest, and being capable of being elevated, as in the Cardinal. 
Its black gorget and tiara, the patches of white, yellow, and black 
described above, make it very conspicuous for colouring, and the 
singularity of its appearance is much increased by the appendages 
to its secondaries and tertiaries, which resemble in colour and sub- 
stance red sealing-wax. In very old birds these waxen appendages 
are also to be found at the extremities of the tail-feathers, being 
no more than the shafts of the feathers, condensed with the web. 
In its habits the Waxwing resembles the Tits. It feeds on 
insects, fruit, berries, and seeds. Its call-note is a twitter, which 
it rarely utters, except when taking flight and alighting. The 
Waxwing is a northern bird, and Dr. Richardson, the Arctic traveller, 
informs us that he one day saw a flock, consisting of three or four 
hundred birds, alight on one or two trees in a grove of poplars, 
making a loud twittering noise. One of its German names, Schnee- 
vogel (snowbird), was evidently given in this belief. It is some- 
times caught and caged, but has nothing but its beautiful colour- 
ing to recommend it. It is a stupid lazy bird, occupied only in 
eating and reposing for digestion. Its song is weak and uncertain. 



FAMILY MUSCICAPID^ 

MusciCAPiD^. — Nostrils more or less covered by bristly hairs 
THE SPOTTED FLYCATCHER 

MUSCICAPA GRfSOLA 

Upper plumage ash-brown ; feathers of the head marked with a central dark 
hne ; under parts white, the sides marked with longitudinal brown streaks ; 
flanks tinged with red. Length six inches ; breadth ten inches. Eggs 
bluish white, mottled with reddish spots, which are deepest in colour 
towards the larger end. 

There are few birds with whose haunts and habits we are more 
familiar than those of the common Flycatcher. In the wooded 
parts of England there is scarcely a country house, perhaps, which 
has not in its neighbourhood at least a single pair of these birds, 
who, though their stay with us is but short, become as necessary 
appendages of the garden during the summer months as the Red- 
breast is in winter. They have neither song to recommend them 
nor brilliancy of colouring ; yet the absence of these qualities is 



7« THE SPOTTED FLYCATCHER 

more than compensated by the confidence they repose in the inno- 
cent intentions of the human beings whose protection they claim, 
by their strong local attachments, and by their unceasing activity 
in the pursuit of flying insects. At any time during the months of 
June, July, and August, in most country and suburban gardens, 
one may observe perched on a railing, standard rose, or the low 
branch of an apple-tree, a small brownish bird, with a speckled 
breast, about the size of a Sparrow, but more slender in form, taking 
no notice of human beings, but nevertheless evidently on the look- 
out for something. Suddenly it darts from its position, flies rapidly 
for^vards for a few yards, performs an evolution in the air, and 
returns either to the exact spot which it had previously occupied 
or to a similar one hard by. After a rest of a few seconds, it per- 
forms the same manoeuvre, and always with the same object and 
success. Every time it quitted its perch, some ill-fated fly or beetle 
was discovered, winging its way through the air, and captured to 
be devoured on the spot, or to form part of a pellet of insect food for 
a hungry nestling. The nest, composed of moss, straws, and hair, and 
lined with feathers, is usually placed either against a wall, hidden 
by the leaves of a trained fruit-tree, or on the horizontal bough of 
a standard apple-tree. During the year 1859, a pair of these birds 
had taken up their quarters in my own garden in a situation such 
as that first described, but becoming dissatisfied with the locaHty 
even after the nest had received its complement of eggs — five — 
deserted it, and built another nest in an apple-tree a few yards oft, 
choosing a position on a short branch, where their workmanship 
was concealed from the sight of passengers by a cluster of large 
apples. The bough overhung a path by which many persons passed 
to and fro every day ; but the nest was buUt, and the old birds 
hatched their eggs, neither noticed nor noticing, untU one day when 
I happened to stop underneath, upon which the bird took flight, 
and so revealed her place of retreat. I do not mention this incident 
as anything remarkable, but simply to exemplify the habits of the 
bird when it has taken up its residence in a frequented garden, 
and in contrast with its treatment of intruders when it has chosen 
a more secluded spot for a home. A few days after, I happened 
to be fly-fishing on the bank of a stream close to which grew some 
tall elm-trees. Under one of these I was pursuing my amusement, 
when a flycatcher darted from a tree on the opposite side of the 
stream, and flew so close to my face that to dip my liead out of the 
way was unavoidable. The same movement was repeated again and 
again, making it impossible for me to persist. Suspecting that 
there was a nest somewhere very near me, I looked up and dis- 
covered, within a few inches of my head, a nest built against the 
bole of the tree, and containing four or five nearly fledged young 
ones, whose heads and breasts projected considerably beyond the 
edge of their mossy cradle. As I moved away, the parent bird 



THE PIED FLYCATCHER 79 

hopped about uneasily in a neighbouring tree, uttering its mono- 
tonous and unmusical chirrup, but molested me no further. It 
would seem then that the garden burd, grown familiar with the 
hmnan form, was unsuspicious of danger, while the other, who had 
not been accustomed to see her sanctuary approached, immediately 
took alarm. It is supposed that the same birds are in the habit of 
returning annually to their old resort. Both the above incidents 
tend to give weight to this opinion : one of the birds having been 
reared, probably in the garden, and so having been accustomed to 
the sight of men from the first ; the other having been always 
a recluse. The fact which fell under my own notice, that a nest 
was built, and a brood reared for three successive years in exactly 
the same spot, is, I think, conclusive evidence that either the same 
birds or their immediate descendants were the architects, it 
being scarcely credible that three several pairs of birds should 
have fixed on the same spot by accident. Mr. Denham Weir 
has observed that the Spotted Flycatcher consumes only a 
day and a half in the construction of its nest, and that a pair of 
birds which he watched fed their young no less than five hundred 
and thirty-seven times in one day, beginning at twenty-five minutes 
before lour o'clock in the morning, and ending at ten minutes before 
nine in the evening. The young birds assume the adult plumage 
in their first year, and soon learn to hawk for their prey as well as 
their parents. I have recorded elsewhere an instance in which the 
parent birds contrived to feed a disabled young one after it had 
left the nest. The Flycatcher arrives in England about the end 
of April, and leaves about the end of September. 



THE PIED FLYCATCHER 

MUSCfCAPA ATRICAPILLA 

Upper plumage and tail black, the wings black, with the central coverts white ; 
scapulars edged with white ; under plumage white. In the female the 
black is replaced by greyish brown, the white is dingy, and the three 
lateral tail feathers are edged with white. Length five inches. Eggs 
pale blue, generally without spots. 

The Pied Flycatcher, so called from its feathers being varied with 
black and white, is a smaller bird than the preceding, and by no 
means so common, being very local as a breeder. It appears, indeed, 
to be mainly confined to the northern counties of England, where 
it arrives about the middle of April, and builds its nest of dry leaves, 
small roots, grass, and a httle hair, loosely put together, in the hole 
of a tree. There it lays from five to seven pale blue eggs, very 
like, both in size and colour, those of the Redstart, which it also 
much resembles in habits. It has more claim to be considered a 
songster than the Spotted Flycatcher. In places where it is frequent 
it is often observed to settle on the decayed stump of a tree, con- 



So THE SWALLOW 

stantly repeating its short, little varied, but far from unpleasing 
song, every now and then interrupted by the pursuit and capture 
of some passing insect. It is said also to be very noisy and clamorous 
when its nest is approached. It quits our shores in September. 



FAMILY HIRUNDINIDiE 
THE SWALLOW 

HIRUNDO RUSTICA 

Forehead and throat chestnut-brown ; upper parts, sides of the neck, and a 
bar across the breast black, with violet reflections ; lower parts dull red- 
dish white ; tail very long and forked. Female — with less red on the 
forehead and less black on the breast ; under parts whiter ; outer tail- 
feathers shorter. Length six inches and a half, width thirteen inches and 
a quarter. Eggs white, spotted wth brown and dark red. 

There are many features in the life of the Swallow so prominent, 
that no undomesticated bird is more thoroughly known. Like 
the Sparrow, it accompanies man wherever he fixes his dwelling ; 
but, unlike the Sparrow, it is liable to be mistaken for no other bird ; 
its flight is peculiar and all but ceaseless ; at least, it is rarely seen 
except in motion ; and it is absent during the greater portion of 
the year, so giving to itself a twofold notoriety, being regretted at 
the season of its departure and welcomed at its return. These 
three circumstances, its migratory habits, its mode of flight, and 
attachment to the dwellings of man, have been the cause why, in 
all ages, it has been invested with especial interest. Its return is 
universally greeted as prophetic of summer weather ; the very 
proverb that ' one Swallow does not make a summer ', only indicates 
a popular belief ; and its departure is among the first intimations 
of approaching winter. The Swallow consequently is the type of 
migratory birds ; if the Swallow is come, all take it for granted 
that the other summer birds have arrived, and when its twitter is 
no longer heard, we know that all the other birds of passage are 
gone or going. Of the Swallow, therefore, it is said pre-eminently, 
" God sends us the Swallow in the first days of summer, to reheve 
us of the insects which the summer suns are calling into life. The 
home of the Swallow is all the habitable earth ; it knows nothing 
of winter or \\anter's cold." In remote ages the Swallow was con- 
sidered to be endowed with supernatural intelligence ; it refused 
to build its nest in a certain town because it was polluted with 
crime ; in another, because it had been frequently burnt down ; it 
foretold tempests ; and, above all, it was noted for having taught 
men the healing properties of a certain herb,^ by employing it to 

» Chehdomum : Celandine or Swallow-wort, from xiSj.^<hv, ' a Swallow ', 



THE SWALLOW 8 1 

give sight to Its young. Not only was it thus skilled in the healing 
art, but was in itself a medicine of no ordinary virtue. Even in 
the time of our countryman Ray, not two hundred years ago, its 
efficacy in various complaints was seriously believed : the whole 
body burnt was considered a specific for weak eyes, quinsy and 
inflamed uvula ; the heart was prescribed in epilepsy and in quartan 
ague, it was good also for str^agthening the memory ; the blood 
was good for the eyes, especially if drawn from under the right 
wing : a little stone sometimes found in the stomach of young birds, 
called chelidonius, tied to the arm, or hung around the neck, was a 
remedy against children's fits. This was to be searched for before 
or at the August full moon, in the eldest of a brood. Even the nest 
had its virtues, being, if applied externally, good for quinsy, redness 
of the eyes, and the bite of a viper. 

A century later ' good old White ' published his account of the 
Swallow, to which the reader is referred as an admirable model 
of bird-biography, not only for the age, but as an authentic history 
full of fresh interest to the reader in all ages. The only point on 
which White had doubts was whether Swallows all migrate, or 
whether some of the young do not occasionally stay beliind, and 
hibernate in hoUow trees, holes of rocks, and the banks of pools 
and rivers. Individuals are said to occasionally remain, perhaps 
in consequence of having been disabled by accident at the season 
when the migratory instinct was in its active force, or from some 
other cause unknown to us. Several instances of sucb have been 
recorded by authors who, whether accurate observers or not, cer- 
tainly believed that they were reporting truly. That they were seen 
only on warm days is of coiurse no evidence that they had been 
roused from a state of torpor by the unusual warmth. Sunny days 
in winter tempt people to walk abroad and to resort to the same 
places which winter-gnats would choose for their gambols. Here, 
too, the stray SwaUow would be found ; but in dark stormy weather 
the gnats and the Swallow would stay at home, and the ornithologist 
would have little temptation to do otherwise. I happen to be my- 
self among the number of those who on personal evidence believe 
that individual Swallows do remain in England long after the period 
of general migration. I was walldng through a limestone quarry 
at Saltram on the bank of the Plym, in Devonshire, many years ago, 
on the twenty-fourth of December, when I saw a Swallow, whether 
a Chimney SwaUow or Martin, I cannot positively affirm, wheeling 
about, and evidently hawking for gnats near the face of the cliff. 
The season was a mUd one, the air stni, and the sun shining brightly 
against the limestone rocks, from which much heat was reflected. 
That the bird had been kept in captivity until the migratory season 
had passed and then released is not probable. On any other 
supposition it must have remained"either of its own free will, which 
is not .likely, or from incapacity to accompany its congeners. Left 

b.b' g 



89 THE SWALLOW 

alone it probably found a sheltered retreat in the face of the cliff, 
and sallied forth whenever the weather was inviting, making the 
most of the short days, and, on the finest, contenting itself with a 
scanty meal. The temperature of the west of England in winter 
it is quite able to bear ; in fact, it is not uncommon there for a 
whole winter to pass without any weather so severe as that which 
has characterized the whole of the present April (i860), though 
Swallows have returned, and contrive to find food enough to keep 
themselves alive. If, therefore, the bird which I saw managed to 
live on till Christmas Eve, there is no reason why it should not 
survive the whole of the winter. But as ' one Swallow does not 
make a spring ', so neither is one sufficient to upset a theory. There 
remains, therefore, the rule with the one exception to prove it, that 
Swallows do migrate. A full account of all that has since been learnt 
of the Swallow's history will be found in Yarrell's British Birds. 
For the sake of reference only I will add a short summary of what 
I may term its statistics. The Swallow is a migratory bird wherever 
it is found, that is in most of the countries of Europe, Asia, 
and Africa. The first Swallows arrive in this country about the 
eleventh of April, and are followed by others at various intervals, 
until the middle or end of May, On their arrival, they resort to 
those places which, being most sheltered, abound most in winged 
insects, these being frequently the courses of rivers and canals. 
As the season advances, they spread themselves more generally 
over the country, still, however, being most numerous in the vicinity 
of water. In May they build their shallow open nests of mud and 
straw lined with feathers, a few feet down a chimney, in an outhouse, 
a bell-tower, the shaft of a deserted mine, or any other place which 
is at once dry and dark, rarely in more exposed places. They lay 
four or five eggs, and rear two or three broods in a season. The 
young being, from the usual situation of the nest, unable to leave 
their nursery until they are fuUy fledged, require to be fed a long 
time, but they continue to be, partially at least, dependent on the 
parent birds for many days after they have leamt to hawk for 
themselves. The process of feeding is carried on while both old 
and young are on the wing ; or the young, perched on the top of 
a house or the branch of a tree, receive in turn the morsels which 
their more skilful parents have caught for them. In autumn, 
many days before migration is actually about to take place. Swal- 
lows, old and young, assemble in large flocks, especially towards 
evening, and roost on trees in the vincinity of water. At this season 
they seem to be more socially disposed, even during the day, than 
at any other period of their sojourn with us. In October they take 
their departure collectively, and so strongly is the migratory instinct 
then in force, that it overcomes parental affection, powerful though 
this feeling is in the Swallow • some of the late broods being left 
behind. 



THE HOUSE MARTIN 83 

THE HOUSE MARTIN 

CHELfDON URBICA 

Head, nape and upper part of the back, black with violet reflections ; lower 
part of the back, and all the under parts, pure white ; feet and toes covered 
with downy feathers ; tail forked, moderate. Length five inches and a 
half. Eggs pure white. 

The swallows and the Martins are so much alike in their leading 
habits, namely, migration, mode of flight, and food, that a descrip- 
tion of either will in many respects be applicable to the other. The 
House Martin generally arrives a few days after the Swallow, and 
resorts to similar localities. In the early part of the season the most 
sheltered places are sought out, and the two species may frequently 
be seen hawking for flies in company. Later in the season its num- 
bers are observed to be greatly increased, and it is joined by the 
Swift and Sand Martin. Not that any society is entered into by 
the different species, or that they even sport together ; but one 
may often stand on the bank of a canal, or by the margin of a pond, 
and see all four kinds glance by in varied succession, and in pro- 
portions which differ according as one or the other is most abundant 
in the neighbourhood. Acute listeners can, it is said, hear a snap- 
ping noise made by the bird as it closes its beak on a captured insect, 
but I must confess that though I have often tried to detect this sound, 
I have never succeeded. Swift as their passage is, and similar though 
the flight of all the species, no difficulty is found in distinguishing 
them. The Chimney-SwaUow is sufficiently marked by its long 
forked tail and red chin ; the House Martin by the snow-white 
hue of its abdomen and lower part of the back, and by its shorter 
tail, which is also forked ; the Sand Martin by its smaller size, its 
greyish brown back and dirty-white under plumage, as well as by 
its shorter, slightly forked tail ; and the Swift can be distinguished 
at any distance by its shape, which resembles a bent bow, with the 
body representing an arrow ready to be shot. On a nearer view, 
the Swift is marked by its general black hue relieved only by a spot 
of white on the chin, which it requires a sharp eye to detect. All 
the species have the power of suddenly, and with the greatest 
rapidity, altering their course by a slight movement of the wings 
and tail. 

Immediately on its arrival in this country, the Martin pays a 
visit to its old dwelling, clings to its walls, peeps in or even enters 
many times a day. It has been proved by several experiments, 
that the same birds return year after year to their old nests, and 
it is hard to believe, so thoroughly delighted do they seem, that 
they are guided simply by an impassive instinct. If so, why should 
they hang about the ' old house at home ' so many days before 
they begin to set in order again the future nursery ? No elaborate 
plans of alterations and improvements are to be devised ; last 



84 THE SAND MARTIN 

year's family are launched on the world, and are quite equal to 
building for their own accommodation. No collecting of materials 
is requisite. The muddy edge of the nearest pond will provide 
plaster enough and to spare to carry out all necessary repairs ; 
shreds of straw are to be had for the picking up, and farmyard 
feathers are as plentiful as of yore. It would seem then a reasonable 
conclusion, that a bird endowed with an instinct powerful enough 
to guide it across the ocean, and a memory sufficiently powerful 
to lead it to the snug window corner of the same cottage where it 
reared its first brood, may live in the past as well as the present, 
and that its seeming joyousness is a reality, even mixed perhaps 
with hopeful anticipations of the future. 

As the reader may, if he will, have ample opportunity of watch- 
ing the habits of a bird that probably builds its nest under the 
eaves of his own house, whether he dwell in a town, a village, or a 
lonely cottage, it is unnecessary to enter into further details of its 
biography. 



THE SAND MARTIN 
c6tile riparia 

All the upper parts, cheeks, and a broad bar on the breast, mouse-colonr } 
throat, fore part of the neck, abdomen, and under tail-coverts white j 
legs and feet naked with the exception of a few small feathers near the 
insertion of the hind toe ; tail forked, rather short. Length five inches. 
Eggs pure white. 

While all the other British species of Swallow resort from choice 
to the haunts of man, the Sand or Bank Martin is indifferent about 
the matter. Provided that it can find a convenient place for ex- 
cavating its nest, other considerations are omitted. It is said to 
be partial to the vicinity of water, but even this selection is rather 
to be attributed to the accidental circumstance that perpendicular 
cliffs often have rivers running at their base, than to any decided 
preference shown by the bird for such situations. Railway cuttings 
carried through a sandy district offer, perhaps, equal attraction ; 
and it is probable that a majority of the colonies planted within the 
last twenty years overlook, not the silent highway of the river, but 
the unromantic parallel bars of iron which have enabled man to vie 
almost with the Swallow in rapidity of flight. The word colonies 
is applicable to few British birds besides the Sand Martin. Others 
of the tribe not unfrequently construct their nests in close proximity 
with each other, and, when thus associated, are most neighbourly 
— hunting in society, sporting together, and making common 
cause against an intrusive Hawk ; but stiU this is no more than a 
fortuitous coming together. 

It so happens that a certain district offers good hunting-ground, 







Swallow J* 



Swift 2 

Sand Martin j 

House Martin j^ 



[face p. 84. 




Tree Sparrow 3 
House Sparrow S 



Linnet S 
Bratnbling c? 



THE SAND MARTIN 85 

and the eaves or windows of a certain house are peculiarly well 
adapted for sheltering nests ; so a number of Window Martins, 
not having taken counsel together, but guided each by independent 
choice, find themselves established sometimes so close together 
that their nests have party walls, like the houses in a street. They 
accordingly make acquaintances, and are sociable to a limited 
extent. But Sand Martins go beyond this, they are comrades 
banded together by municipal laws, which no doubt they under- 
stand and obey, inhabiting dwellings which constitute a joint settle- 
ment, returning without fail to the familiar haunt after every 
annual migration, or if they desert a station, leaving no stragglers 
behind, and pitching their camp anew in some locality which 
common consent has pronounced to be an eligible one. They are 
not, however, exclusive in their fraternization ; as they hunt in 
society with their relatives the Swifts and Swallows, and even 
accompany them in distant flights. I have repeatedly observed 
Sand Martins flying about with others of the same tribe many miles 
away from their homes. They may readily be distinguished, as I 
have stated before, by their dingy mouse-coloured hue, smaller 
size, and less forked tails. I have never had an opportunity of 
watching a colony engaged in their mining operations at the busy 
period of their year, that of nidification ; but from the description 
by Professor Rennie [Bird Architecture) and that by Mr. R. D. 
Duncan, quoted by Macgillivray, the sight must be most interesting. 
The task of the older birds must be a light one ; not so, however, 
that of the younger members of the flock. The former have neither 
walls nor roofs to repair ; the holes which served them as nests the 
previous year afford the same accommodation as before. All that 
is needed is, that the remains of the old nest should either be re- 
moved or receive the addition of a few straws and feathers to protect 
the eggs and young from direct contact with the cold sand ; their 
labours then are over. But the new colonists have a toilsome work 
to perform before they can enjoy the gratification of bringing up 
a family. The settlement is fixed probably in the perpendicular 
face of a bank of sand, gravel, or clay, at an elevation from the 
ground which varies from a few to a great many feet. Their claws 
are sharp and weU adapted for clinging, the beak short, rigid, and 
pointed, no less well suited for excavating. Grasping the perpendi- 
cular surface of the bank with their claws, and steadying themselves 
by means of their tails, they commence operations by pricking a small 
hole with their bills. This hole they gradually enlarge by moving 
round and round, and edging ofE the sand with the side of their 
bills, which they keep shut. Their progress is slow at first, but 
after they have made room to stand on the excavation, they proceed 
rapidly, still working with their bills, and carefully pushing out the 
loosened sand with their feet. At one time the male, at another 
the female, is the excavator. When their burrowing is impeded 



86 THE GREENFINCH 

by the resistance of a stone, they either dig round it and loosen it, 
or, if it prove so large as to defy removal, they desist and begin 
another cell. The form of the hole varies both in size and shai)e, 
but it rarely exceeds three or four inches in diameter, and more 
or less approaches the circular form. The depth varies from a 
few inches to three feet, and the direction seems to depend on the 
nature of the soil encountered. In all, however, the extremity 
of the hole is enlarged to a diameter of five or six inches, and is 
situated above the level of the entrance, so that no rain-water 
can lodge. The work is performed only in the mornings, and is 
consequently carried over several days. The nest itself consists 
of straws of grass and feathers, and is placed in the terminal cham- 
ber. The eggs are five or six in number, pure white, and of a rather 
long shape. 



FAMILY FRINGILLID.E 

THE GREENFINCH 

LIGURINUS CHLORIS 

All the plumage yellowish grf^en, variegated with yellow and ash-grey. Length 
six inches. Eggs bluish white, speckled and spotted with purplish grey 
and dark brown. 

The Greenfinch, or Green Linnet, is one of our most generally dif- 
fused birds. No bird is a more frequent inhabitant of country gar- 
dens during the summer than this, being attracted, it would seem, 
not so much by the prospect of abundance of food, as by its fond- 
ness for building its nest in evergreens and the thick hedges of 
shrubberies. The lively greenish yellow tint of the plumage on its 
throat and breast sufficiently distinguish it from any other British 
bird ; and its note, when once identified, can be confounded with 
no other song. Let any one who wishes to obtain a sight of one, 
walk anywhere in the country where there are trees, on a bright 
sunny day in May or June, and listen for a monotonous long-drawn 
croak, trying to pronounce the syllable ' twe-e-e ' or ' hree-eze '. 
No matter what other birds may be tuning their lays, the harsh 
monotone of the Greenfinch, if one be near, will be heard among 
them, harmonizing with none, and suggestive of heat and weariness. 
In a few seconds it will be repeated, without a shadow of variation 
either in tone or duration ; and if it be traced out, the author of the 
noise (music I cannot call it) will be discovered perched among the 
branches of a moderately high tree, repeating his mournful ditty 
with extreme complacency for an hour together. Very often he 
takes advantage of the midday silence of the groves, and pipes 
away without any other competitor than the Yellow Hammer, 
whose song, like his own, is a constant accompaniment of sultry 



THE TTAWFINCH 87 

weather. The Greenfinch has another note which is heard most 
frequently, but not exclusively, in spring. This is a single plaintive 
chirp which may be easily imitated by human whistling ; it re- 
sembles somewhat one of the call-notes of the Canary-bird or Brown 
Linnet, and, being fuU and sweet, harmonizes with the woodland 
chorus far better than the monotonous croak described above. 
Another of the notes is a double one, and closely resembles that 
of the ' Pee-wit ', hence it is called in some places ' Pee-sweep '. 
The Greenfinch builds its nest, when not among evergreens, in 
some taU thick bush either in a hedge or coppice. Less neatly 
finished than that of the Chaffinch, it is nevertheless a beautiful 
structure. It is composed externally of a framework of light twigs 
and roots, interleaved with moss and wool, to which succeeds a 
denser layer of the same materials lined with hair. It lays five 
eggs, which are of a light grey colour, almost white, variously 
speckled with purple, and of a long shape. In winter, Greenfinches 
congregate in large numbers, and feed together on the seeds of 
various weeds in stubble fields, or not unfrequently they descend 
on newly-sown fields of wheat, where they are very troublesome. 
If disturbed, they rise simultaneously, fly rapidly only a few feet 
from the ground to another part of the field, but before they alight 
wheel about several times with singular precision of movement, 
disappearing from the sight and reappearing according as the dark 
or light portion of their plumage is turned towards the spectator ; 
and by this peculiarity they may be distinguished from flocks of 
of other small birds at a great distance. If repeatedly disturbed, 
they alter their tactics, and take refuge in the top branches of the 
neighbouring trees until their persecutor has turned his back, 
when they return to the charge with the same perseverance which 
they display in the repetition of their summer song. These flocks, 
probably, are composed of individuals which have banded together 
in some more northern climate, and emigrated southwards in quest 
of food ; for smaller parties, either unmixed, or associated with 
Sparrows, Chaffinches, and Buntings, frequent our farmyards and 
gardens in undiminished numbers. 



THE HAWFINCH 

COCCOTHRAUSTES VULGARIS 

Lore, throat, and plumage at the base of the bill black ; crown and cheeks 
reddish brown ; nape ash-grey ; back dark reddish brown ; wings black, 
great coverts white ; some of the quills truncated at the extremity ; 
under parts light purplish red ; tail short. Length seven inches. Eggs 
light olive-green, with a few brown spots and numerous irregular lines 
of a lighter tint. 

Judging from its confonnation, one would, without knowing any- 
thing of the habits of this bird, pronounce it to be a professor of 



88 THE GOLDFINCH 

some laborious occupation. Its short tail and wings unfit it for 
long aerial voyages, and its thick neck and ponderous bill denote the 
presence of great muscular power, and such, indeed, it both has 
and requires. It is not a common bird, and was until within the 
last few years considered to be migratory ; but so many instances 
have occurred in which its nest has been found, that no doubt is now 
entertained of its being a constant resident. In Berkshire I have 
several times seen two or three together busily occupied in picking 
up the seeds which had fallen from the cones of a spruce fir. On 
one occasion a nest was brought to me by a man who had found it 
built on some twigs which grew from the trunk of a taU oak-tree ; 
it was built of the tangled white lichens which grow on trees, on a 
foundation of a few roots, and contained five eggs. I afterwards 
discovered another nest of exactly similar structure, which I be- 
lieved must have been built by the same bird, but it was empty. 
In Hertfordshire a single Hawfinch visited my garden one winter 
for several days in succession, and diligently picked up and cracked 
the stones of laurel cherries, from which Blackbirds had, a few 
months before, as busily stripped the pulp. In the cherry orchards 
in the neighbourhood they are not uncommon, where, even if not 
seen, their visits are detected by the ground being strewed with 
halves of cherry-stones, which these birds split with their powerful 
beaks as cleverly as a workman with the chisel. Their note I 
have never heard, but the proprietor of the orchards assured me that 
he had often detected their presence by the low twittering noise which 
they made, a description the truth of which a writer quoted by 
Yarrell confirms. I have never seen a nest in Hertfordshire, but 
on several occasions have observed their eggs among the collections 
made by the country boys in the neighbourhood. Besides cherry- 
stones. Hawfinches feed on hazelnuts, hornbeam seeds, the kernels 
of the fruit of the hawthorn, seeds of various kinds, and, when they 
can get them, green peas, for the sake of which they often venture 
into gardens. They usually build their nests in trees at an 
elevation varying from twenty-five to thirty feet, and the nest is 
composed of dead twigs, intermixed with pieces of grey lichen ; 
this last material varying much in quantity in different nests, but 
being never absent. 



THE GOLDFINCH 

CARDUilLIS f LEGANS 

Back of the head, nape, and feathers round the base of the bill black ; fore- 
head and throat blood-red ; cheeks, forepart of the neck and lower parts 
white ; back and scapulars dark brown ; wings variegated with black, 
white and yellow ; tail black, tipped with white. Length five inches. 
Eggs bluish white, speckled with pale purple and brown. 

This little bird, as sprightly in its habits as it is brilliant in its colour- 



THE GOLDFINCH 89 

ing, Is perhaps a more general favourite than any other British 
bird. Though in its natural state less familiar with man than the 
Redbreast, and inferior as a musician to the Lark, the Thrush, and 
others of our resident birds, it is more frequent as a caged bird than 
either, and thus is known to tens of thousands of city folk who 
never heard the wild song of the Thrush, nor saw a Redbreast under 
any circumstances. In a cage it is attractive from its lively move- 
ments, its agreeable song, and yet more from its docHity, as it not 
only is readily tamed, but may be taught to perform various tricks 
and manoeuvres utterly repugnant to the nature of birds. Its 
affection, too, for its owner is not less remarkable. Of this many 
instances are, I doubt not, familiar to the reader ; but the following 
is not so well known. There was some years since in a smaU town, 
about twelve leagues from Paris, a tame Goldfinch, which belonged 
to a carrier, and which for many years regularly accompanied his 
master twice a week to and from the metropohs. At first it used 
to content itself with perching on the driver's seat, and from time 
to time flying a short distance ahead, or gambolling with other 
birds of the same kind that it encountered on the way. By and 
by it seemed to grow dissatisfied with the slow pace of the wagon, 
and took long flights in advance, still returning from time to time 
to its accustomed perch. At length, becoming more enterprising, 
it would leave its master in the lurch, and fly in advance the whole 
of the way, and announce his approach at the house in the city 
where he put up. If the weather was stormy, it would quietly 
await his arrival, taking up its quarters by the fireside ; but if the 
weather was fine, it would, after making a brief stay, return to 
meet him. At every meeting, caresses and congratulations were 
exchanged, as fondly as if they had been separated for years. This 
romantic attachment was at length terminated by the disappearance 
of the bird, but whether through the instrumentality of a cat, a 
Hawk, or some mischievous boy, was never discovered. 

Whatever doubt may exist as to the services rendered to man 
by the Sparrow and Chaifmch, about the Goldfinch there can be no 
difference of opinion. The farmer has no better friend, and yet 
an abundance of Goldfinches on an estate is anything but a welcome 
sight ; for it denotes abundance of its favourite food, the seeds of 
thistles. Where these weeds flourish, there, for the most part, 
Goldfinches are to be met with in considerable numbers. The 
French name, Chardonneret, denotes ' a frequenter of thistles ', 
and the ancient Greek and Latin name for it, Acanthis, is of similar 
import ; the Acanthis, PUny tells us,^ bears animosity against no 
Living creature but the donkey, a beast which eats the flowers of 
thistles, and so deprives it of its food. To this dietary it adds 
the seeds of dandelions, centaury and other weeds, but shows a 
decided preference for the seeds of the compound flowers. Its 

1 Nat. Hist., lib. x., cap. Ixxiv. 



go THE SISKIN 

nest Is among the most beautiful that birds construct. One now 
before me is placed among the terminal branches cut from the 
bough of a Scotch fir which grew at an elevation of about twenty 
feet from the ground. It is encircled by upwards of a dozen leafy 
twigs which unite beneath its base, and form both a firm support and 
effectual shelter. The substance is composed of tufted white lichens 
{Usnea and Evernia), and a few fine roots and wiry stems of garden- 
th5mie, felted together with wool so securely, that it is scarcely 
possible to remove one of them without damaging the whole. With 
these is intermixed a piece of worsted, and a thread of sewing cotton ; 
a few horse-hairs succeed, and the whole of the interior is thickly 
matted with the white silky down of the coltsfoot. Other nests 
vary in the materials employed, moss being sometimes used instead 
of white lichen, and willow-cotton or feathers instead of the down 
of the coltsfoot. Thistle-down is sometimes named as the material 
of the lining ; but this must be under unusual circumstances, that 
substance being generally unattainable in spring. Besides fir-trees, 
the apple and elm are often selected by Goldfinches to build their 
nests in, and they not unfrequently resort to any low tree in a hedge 
or shrubbery, also to young oak-trees. In autumn, Goldfinches 
assemble in flocks of from ten to twenty or more, and resort to waste 
places, or the borders of fields, where thistles abound, and it is hard 
to imagine a prettier sight than a party of these innocent and bril- 
Hant hunters, perching, all heedless of spines and prickles, on the 
thistle heads, plucking out the seeds with the pappus attached, 
and cleverly separating the former from their appendage. While 
thus employed, they seem to take it for granted that no one will 
molest them, but continue their useful labour, twittering pleasantly 
all the while, until the spectator comes within a few yards of them, 
when they fly off like butterflies to another prickly bed. 

Owing to more efficient bird-protection the Goldfinch, which 
was decreasing largely in numbers, is now on the increase acain. 



THE SISKIN 

CARDUELIS SPINUS 

Crown black ; behind the eye a broad yellow streak ; all the plumage varie- 
gated with grey, dusky, and various shades of yellow and yellowish 
green ; wings dusky, with a transverse greenish yellow bar, and a black 
one above, and another black one across the middle of the tertiaries ; 
tail dusky, the base and edge of the inner web greenish yellow. Female — 
all the colours less bright, and no black on the head. Length four and 
a half inches. Eggs greyish white, speckled with purplish brown. 

The Siskin, or Aberdevine, is best known as a cage-bird, as it is 
only a very occasional breeder in Great Britain, and during the 



THE SISKIN 91 

period of Its stay Is retiring in its habits. Siskins are more fre- 
quently met with in the northern than the southern counties of 
England, but they are common in neither, and will only nest where 
pine woods abound. They are generally observed to keep together in 
small flocks of from twelve to fifteen, and may be heard from a 
considerable distance, as they rarely intermit uttering their call- 
note, which, though little more than a soft twittering, is as clear 
as that of the Bullfinch, to which it has been compared. Their 
flight is rapid and irregular, like that of the Linnet. They leave 
their roosting-places early in the morning, and usually alight on 
the branches of alder-trees, where they remain all day. The seeds 
of the alder, inclosed within scales something like those of the 
coniferous trees, form the principal food of these pretty little birds, 
who are obliged to hang at the extremities of the twigs in order 
to explore the seed-vessels on all sides. Occasionally, but less 
frequently, they are seen visiting heads of thistles and burdocks, 
and not unfrequently they descend to the ground for the sake of 
picking up scattered seeds. During the whole of their feeding 
time, they never cease twittering and fluttering about joyously from 
twig to twig. Now and then, as if by preconcerted signal given 
by a leader, they all take flight to another tree or, after a short 
evolution, return to the same from which they started. Should 
it happen that, whUe one little band is occupied in despoiling a 
tree, another is heard in the air, the latter is immediately invited 
by general acclamation to take part in the banquet, and rarely 
fails to accept the invitation. Owing to this sociability of character 
they are easily entrapped, provided that one of their own species 
be employed as a decoy bird. They soon become reconciled to 
captivity, and are valued for their readiness to pair with the Canary- 
bird, the note of which the joint offspring is thought to improve. 
The nest, which in some respects resembles those of the Green- 
finch and Chaffinch, is concealed with great care in the fork formed 
by two branches of a fir, with which it is so skilfully made to assimi- 
late, that it is almost impossible to discern it from below. In 
France, Siskins are most numerous from the middle of October to 
the beginning of December. They are then supposed to travel 
southwards, and appear again, but in greatly diminished numbers, 
in spring, at which period they are considered to be travelling 
towards their summer quarters in Russia and Scandinavia. 



92 THE HOUSE SPARROW 

THE HOUSE SPARROW 

PASSER DOMESTICUS 

Crown and back of the head dark bluish ash ; lore, throat, and front of the 
neck black ; above the eyes a band of uniform reddish brown, inter- 
mixed with a few small white feathers ; upper feathers dark brown, 
edged with reddish brown ; a single transverse white bar on the wing ; 
cheeks, sides of the neck, and under parts greyish white. Female — 
head, nape, neck, and breast ash-brown ; above the eye a hght yellowish 
brown streak ; rest of the plumage less bright. Length five inches and 
three-quarters. Eggs whit«, spotted and speckled with dark grey and 
brown. 

What were the haunts of the Sparrow at the period when men 
dwelt in tents, cind there were neither farmhouses nor villages, much 
less towns and cities, it were hard to say. Certain it is now that 
thoroughly wild Sparrows are not to be met \vith in districts remote 
from human dwellings and cultivation ; they have left the hill- 
side and forest as if by common consent, and have pitched their 
tents where man builds, or ploughs, or digs, and nowhere else. In 
the city, the seaport town, the fishing village, the hamlet, the farm- 
house, nay, near the cot on the lone waste and by the roadside 
smithy, they are always present, varying in the amount of con- 
fidence they place in their patrons, but all depending on man to 
a certain extent. And not only do they court his society, but 
they have adopted his diet. Whatever is the staple food of a 
household, the Sparrows that nestle around will be right pleased to 
share it ; bread, meat, potatoes, rice, pastry, raisins, nuts, if they 
could have these for the asking, they would not trouble themselves 
to search farther ; but obUged, as they are, to provide for them- 
selves, they must be content with humble fare ; and so skilful are 
they as caterers, that whatever other birds may chance to die of 
starvation, a Sparrow is always round and plump, while not a few 
have paid for their voracity by their lives. Much difference of 
opinion exists as to whether Sparrows should be courted by man 
as aUies, or exteiTninated as enemies. The best authorities on 
this point have come to the conclusion that their numbers must 
be lessened, and that the most htunane way to do this is to tear down 
nests before the yoimg are hatched out. The fact that great 
efforts are at the present time being made to introduce them into 
New Zealand, where the com crops suffer great injury from the 
attacks of insects, which the presence of Sparrows would, it is 
beUeved, materially check, leads to the conclusion that their mission 
is one of utihty. That Sparrows consume a very large quantity 
of com in summer there can be no doubt ; as soon as the grain has 
attained its full size, and long before it is ripe, they make descents 
on the standing com, and if undisturbed will clear so effectually 
of their contents the ears nearest to the hedges, that this portion 
of the crop is sometimes scarcely worth the threshing. During 



THE HOUSE SPARROW qj 

harvest they transfer their attention to the sheaves, while the reapers 
and binders are occupied elsewhere ; as gleaners they are inde- 
fatigable ; they participate, too, in the joys of harvest home, 
for their food is then brought to their very doors. The most 
skilful binder leaves at least a few ears exposed at the wrong end 
of the sheaf, and these are searched for diligently in the rick ; 
and the bams must be well closed indeed into which they cannot 
find admission. At threshings and wirmowings they are constant 
attendants, feeding among the poultry, and snatching up the 
scattered grains under the formidable beak of Chanticleer himself. 
At seed-time their depredations are yet more serious, as they now 
come in not simply for a share of the produce, but undermine the 
very foundations of the future crop. I once had the curiosity 
to examine the crop of a Sparrow which had been shot as it flew 
up from a newly-sown field, and found no less than forty-two grains 
of wheat. A writer in the Zoologist, who professes himself a 
deadly enemy of the Sparrow, states that he once took i8o grains 
of good wheat from the crops of five birds, giving an average of 
thirty-six for a meal. Now if Sparrows had the opportunity of 
feeding on grain aU the year round, they would be unmitigated 
pests, and a war of extermination against them could not be waged 
too vigorously ; but during the far greater portion of the year 
they have not the power of doing mischief, and all this time they 
have to find food for themselves. Against their will, perhaps, 
they now hunt for the seeds of various weeds, especially the wild 
mustard ; and these being smaller than grains of com and less 
nutritive, they consume an immense number of them, varying their 
repast with myriads of caterpillars, wireworms, and other noxious 
grubs ; also they devour small beetles (called hay-chaffers) when the 
hay lies in swathes ontthe field. They thus compensate, certainly 
in part, perhaps wholly, for the mischief they do at other seasons ; 
and it is even questionable whether, if a balance were struck 
between them and the agriculturists, the obligation would not be 
on the side of the latter. 

It is scarcely necessary to say much of the habits of a bird 
which stands on such familiar terms with the human race as the 
Sparrow. During no period of the year do Sparrows live together 
in perfect amity ; if half a dozen descend to pick up a handful of 
scattered crumbs, each in his turn will peck at any other who comes 
too near his share of the feast, and, with a peculiar sidelong shuffle 
or hop, will show his intention of appropriating as large a portion 
of the feeding-ground as he can. In spring, this bickering assumes 
a more formidable character. A duel is commenced among the 
branches of a tree, obstinate and noisy ; all the Sparrows within 
hearing flock to the scene of combat, joining at first with their 
voices, and finally with their beaks ; a general riot ensues, with as 
little object seemingly as an Irish ' row ' ; for suddenly the outcry 



94 THE MOUNTAIN OR TREE SPARROW 

ceases, and the combatants return to their various occupations. 
A writer in the Naturalist gives an account of a fray of this kind, 
during which three male birds fell at his feet one after another 
either dead or dying ; but cases of this kind are very rare. 

Sparrows build their nests at a considerable elevation from the 
ground, but are by no means particular as to the locality. At the 
period when most farmhouses and cottages were thatched, the 
eaves were their favourite resort, and here they hollowed out for 
themselves most comfortable dwellings. The general employment 
of tiles or slates has interfered with this arrangement ; but they 
will fix upon any projection, niche, crack, or hole which will hold a 
nest, and if these are all occupied, content themselves with a tree ; 
but, as far as my own observation goes, the number built in trees 
far exceeds that to be found in other localities. Very frequently 
they appropriate the nest of the House Martin. The nest itself 
is a rude structure, composed mainly of straw and hay, and lined 
with feathers and any other soft materials which they can find. 
Two or three broods are reared every year, the number of eggs 
being usually five. The 3'oung are fed on worms, caterpillars, 
and insects of various kinds. 



THE MOUNTAIN OR TREE SPARROW 

PASSER MONTAnUS 

Crown and back of the head chestnut-browTi ; lore, ear-coverts, and throat 
black ; neck almost surrounded by a white collar ; upper plumage 
resembling the last ; wing with two transverse white bars. The female 
scarcely differs from the male. Length five inches and a half. Eggs as 
in the last. 

The Mountain Sparrow seems scarcely to deserve its name, as 
it is by no means confined to mountainous districts. It is abundant 
all over the European continent, and is to be met with here and 
there in many parts of England in the east of Scotland and of 
late years in Ireland and in the Hebrides ; but it is nowhere so 
abundant as the House Sparrow, which it resembles in all respects, 
except that the head is of a bright chestnut colour, and the neck 
wears a white collar. I have never seen it except in society with 
the common species, and could never detect any difference either 
in flight or note ; but other observers state that the flight is slow 
and constrained, and the note assumes more the character of a 
song. The nest is placed in soft rotten wood of pollard willows 
and other trees, in hollow trees and under the thatch of buildings. 



THE CHAFFINCH 95 



THE CHAFFINCH 

FRINGILLA CiELEBS 

Forehead black ; crown and nape greyish blue ; back and scapulars chestnut, 
tinged with green ; rump green ; breast wine-red, fading towards the 
abdomen into white ; wings black, with two white bands ; coverts of 
the secondaries tipped with yellow ; tail black, the two middle feathers 
£ish-grey, the two outer on each side black, with a broad oblique white 
band. Female — head, back and scapulars, ash-brown, tinged with oUve ; 
lower parts greyish white ; the transverse bands less distinct. Length 
six inches. Eggs greenish purple, streaked and spotted with purple- 
brown. 

* Gai comme Pinson ', as gay as a Chaffinch, is a familiar French 
proverb, which describes not only the character of the bird, but 
the peculiar temperament which in France is an essential part 
of gaiety. The Chaffinch is a smart, lively, active bird, always in a 
bustle, flitting here and there incessantly and staying long nowhere, 
always wearing a holiday look, so trim and spruce is he, and rattling 
through his song with wondrous volubUity. It received the name 
ccelebs, bachelor, from Linnaeus, who observed that the flocks in 
winter are composed for the most part either exclusively of males 
or of females. Large flocks arrive on our east coast each year 
from the Continent, and others coming from the north spread them- 
selves over the country to the southward. ^During the open 
weather of autumn and early winter, Chaffinches frequent stubble 
and ploughed fields, where they busily collect grain and the seeds 
of various weeds, and are not, I fear, very scrupulous whether 
they are engaged as gleaners of what is lost, or robbers of what is 
sown. In severe weather they resort to farmyards and home- 
steads, where, along with Sparrows, Buntings, and Greenfinches, 
they equally consider all they can find as provided for their own 
especial use. On the return of spring, they feed upon the young 
shoots, and for a few weeks show themselves great enemies to 
horticulture. Their visits to our flower-gardens, paid very early 
in the morning, are attested by scattered buds of polyanthuses, 
which they attack and puU to pieces as soon as they begin to push 
from between the leaves. In the kitchen-garden they are yet 
more mischievous, showing a strong inclination for all pungent 
seeds. Woe to the unthrifty gardener, who, while drilling in 
his mustard, or cress, or radishes, scatters a few seeds on the sur- 
face ! The quick eye of some passing Chaffinch will surely detect 
them ; so surely will the stray grains serve as a clue to the treasure 
concealed beneath, and so surely will a hungry band of companions 
rush to ' the diggings ', and leave the luckless proprietor a poor 
tithe of his expected crop. Yet so large is the number of the seeds 



96 THE CHAFFINCH 

of weeds that the Chaffinch consumes, in the course of a year, 
more particularly of groundsel, chickweed, and buttercup, that 
he, without doubt, more than compensates for all his misdeeds ; 
and as his summer food partially, and that of his young family 
exclusively, consists of caterpillars and other noxious insects, he 
is in reality among the gardener's best friends, who should be 
scared away at the seasons when his visits are not welcome, and 
encouraged at all other times. The Chaffinch, though a wary bird, 
does not stand greatly in fear of man ; for if disturbed at a meal, he 
is generally satisfied with the protection afforded by the branches of 
the nearest tree, on which he hops about until the danger is past, utter- 
ing his simple but not unpleasing note, ' twink ' or ' pink ' or ' spink, 
Spink, spink ' as it is variously translated. To this cry it adds the 
syllable ' tweet ', frequently repeated in an anxious tone and with a 
peculiar restlessness of manner, which always indicate that its 
nest is somewhere very near at hand, and by which indeed it is 
very often betrayed. 

Its proper song commences very early in spring, and is continued 
until June or later. This must be the song which the poet had in 
view when he sang : — 

Then as a little helpless innocent bird, 
That has but one plain passage of few notes. 
Will sing the simple passage o'er and o'er. 
For all one April morning, till the ear 
Wearies to hear it. — Tennyson, 

It consists of from ten to twelve notes of the same tone, and 
about the same length, with the last but one elevated and accented, 
uttered rapidly at short intervals, and without the least variation. 

In Germany, this bird is so great a favourite that not a single 
tone of its voice has escaped the experienced ears of bird-fanciers. 
In some parts of Holland and the north of France, the passion 
for song Chaffinches amounts to a frenzy. Philharmonic societies 
are formed, whose exclusive object is to educate Chaffinches, and 
to organize vocal combats. The combatants, each in his cage, are 
placed a few yards from each other. One of them utters his strain, 
which is replied to by the other ; strict silence is imposed on the 
spectators, lest the attention of the birds should be distracted by 
their remarks or applause. The contest proceeds as long as the 
birds continue to utter their notes of defiance, and the victory is 
adjudged to the one who has the last word. The price paid for a 
bird of mark, and the pains bestowed on the capture of any bird 
which in its wild state holds out promise of being an apt pupil, are 
past belief, and the cruelty practised in producing a perfect songster 
I cannot bring myself to describe. After all, Bechstein's tran- 
slator says that the notes of the wUd Chaffinches in England are 
finer than any cage ones he has heard in Germany, English bird- 






Siskin (? 2 2 

Chaffinch c? 2 



Goldfinch <? 
Hav/finch J c? [p. 96. 





Redpole 6 

Bullfinch 6 



Twite i 6 



THE BRAMBLING 97 

fanciers, without going so far as their German brethren, profess 
to distinguish three variations of song in the Chaffinch. 

The nest of the Chaffinch is an exquisite piece of workmanship, 
composed of moss, dry grass, fine roots felted together with wool, 
decorated externally with scraps of white lichens, and lined with 
hair and feathers. It is placed sometimes in the fork of a tree, 
sometimes against the bole, but more frequently than anywhere 
else it is built in among the twigs of an apple-tree ; but in every 
case it is attached to its support by wool interwoven with the other 
materials. The Chaffinch usually lays five eggs. 



THE BRAMBLING 

FRINGILLA MONTIFRINGfLLA 

Head, cheeks, nape, and upper part of the back, black, the feathers (in winter) 
tipped with light brown or ash-grey ; neck and scapulars pale 
orange-brown ; wings black, variegated with orange-brown and white ; 
rump and lower parts white, the flanks reddish, with a few dark spots. 
Female — crown reddish brown, the feathers tipped with grey, a black 
streak over the eyes ; cheeks and neck ash-grey ; all the other 
colours less bright. Length six inches and a half. Eggs yellowish white, 
spotted and streaked with dark red. 

In winter this bird occurs over the whole continent of Europe, 
and not unfrequently in enormous flocks. Pennant mentions 
an instance in which eighteen were killed at one shot — a statement 
which I can well believe, having seen in the winter of 1853 by far 
the largest flock of small birds I ever beheld, and which was composed 
entirely of Bramblings. They were employed in searching for 
food on the ground in a beech wood, and, as I approached, flew 
up into the branches in thousands. The Brambhng, called also 
the Bramble Finch and Mountain Finch, is a fairly regular autumn 
and winter visitor to many parts of Scotland. Its presence in our 
country in any numbers depends on the severity of the weather 
on the Continent. Sometimes it is fairly numerous with us, 
especially where there are many beech woods. Few visit Ireland, 
It resembles the Chaffinch in'habits, size, and general tone of colour ; 
and as it often feeds in company with it, is probably sometim&s con- 
founded with it by an inexperienced eye. It arrives in this country 
in November, and takes its departure early in spring, never having 
been known to breed here. Its song is said to be something like 
that of the Chaffinch, and its nest, built in fir-trees, to be constructed 
with the same marvellous art. 



98 THE LINNET 

THE LINNET 

ACANTHIS CAnNABINA 

Winter — head ash-brown, the feathers dusky in the middle, those of the 
forehead more or less tinged with crimson ; back chestnut-brown, be- 
coming brighter towards the scapulars and duller towards the tail ; tail- 
feathers black, edged towards the tip with reddish grey, the outer onea 
bordered with white ; primaries black, the first five with very narrow, the 
next five with broad, white edges, the rest of the wing-feathers tinged 
with red, all tipped with ash-grey ; under parts — breast-feathers dull 
crimson or brown, edged with yellowish red ; abdomen dull white ; 
flanks reddish yellow ; beak brownish horn colour ; feet and toes brown ; 
tail moderate. In summer the beak is of a bluish lead colour ; feathers 
of the forehead and crown grejnsh brown, tipped with crimson ; upper 
plumage uniform rich chestnut-brown ; breast crimson, with a few pale 
brown feathers intermixed. Length five inches. Eggs pale bluish grey, 
speckled with deep red. 

It is not unusual in the country to hear mention made of the 
Brown, the Grey, and the Rose or Red Linnet, and the Common 
Linnet, as if these were all different birds. Such, however, is not 
the case. The Linnet is a bird which varies its plumage con- 
siderably at different seasons of the year, in consequence of which, 
at a period when little attention was paid to Ornithology, the 
same individual was known by whichever of these names best 
described its characteristic colouring. Even by the earlier ornitho- 
logists there were supposed to be two species, one of which was 
called Linota, probably from its having been observed feeding 
on flax-seed {Linuin) ; the other Cannablna, from having been 
seen to feed on hemp seed {Cannabis). Linnets offer themselves 
to our notice in the evenings of autumn and winter more than 
at any other time. Large flocks of them may then be observed 
making their way, with rapid and irregular flight, towards tall trees 
which happen to stand in the vicinity of a common or a furzebrake. 
On the summits of these they alight, with their heads, in stormy 
weather, always turned towards the wind, and after keeping up a 
continuous twittering for a few minutes, suddenly drop into their 
roosting-places among the furze and thick shrubs. At the return 
of dawn, they issue forth to their feeding-grounds, still congre- 
gated in large flocks, and spend the whole of the day in hunting 
on the ground for food. This consists principally of the seeds of 
various weeds, especially wtld-mustard or charlock, wild-cabbage, 
and other plants of the same tribe, thistle and dandelion ; chance 
grains of corn no doubt are not passed by, but any injury which may 
be done by these birds, either to standing crops or newly-sowed 
lands, must be far outweighed by their sevices as destroyers of 
weeds and insects, which latter also enter into their dietary. At 
this season their only note is a simple call, mellow and pleasant, 
which they uttter both while flying and when perched. In spring, 
the flocks break up, and the members betake themselves in pairs 



THE LESSER REDPOLL 99 

to the commons and heaths, which afforded them night-lodging dur- 
ing winter. Here they build their nests at a moderate distance 
from the ground, more frequently in a furze-bush than anywhere 
else, but occasionally in other shrubs or an adjoining hedge. The 
nest is constructed of small twigs, moss, roots, and wool ; and 
is lined with hair, feathers, and sometimes vegetable down. The 
Linnet laj^ four or five eggs. The spring and summer song of the 
Linnet is remarkable neither for compass nor power ; it is, however, 
very sweet, and on this account the Linnet is a favourite cage- 
bird. 



THE MEALY REDPOLL 

ACANTHIS LINARIA 

Throat and lore black ; forehead and crown blood-red ; breast and rump rose- 
red ; under parts white ; nape reddish white, with dusky streaks ; 
shoulders and back with dark streaks, edged with white ; quills and tail 
feathers greyish brown, edged with white. Length five and a half inches. 

A NORTHERN species of Linnet, closely resembling the Lesser Red- 
poll, but larger. It visits Great Britain only in the winter and 
at irregular intervals, being in some seasons tolerably abundant, 
and in others not seen at all. Little appears to be known of its 
habits. 



THE LESSER REDPOLL 

ACANTHIS RUFESCENS 

Forehead, throat, and lore black ; crown deep crimson ; under parts light 
crimson tinged with buff, fading towards the tail into white ; upper parts 
reddish brown, with dusky streaks ; wings and tail dusky, edged with 
pale reddish brown. Female — all the colours less bright. Length five 
and a quarter inches. Eggs bluish white, speckled at the larger end 
with reddish brown. 

The Lesser Redpoll so closely resembles the Siskin in its habits 
and temperament, that a description of either of these birds would 
serve well for the other. Like that bird it congregates in small 
flocks ; it frequents damp valleys where alder-trees abound ; it 
feeds on the seeds of the same trees ; like it, hangs at the extremities 
of the twigs to explore the catkins, twitters merrily as it flies, and 
is quite as easily reconciled to captivity. But for the yellow 
plumage and larger size of the Siskin, they might well be mistaken 
one for the other. The Redpoll, however, is a much more frequent 
bird, as its annual visits to the southern counties of England in 
winter are as regular as those of Swallows in summer. Though a 
northern bird, it does not unexceptionally repair to high latitudes, 
but in summer remains to breed in Scotland and the northern 
counties of England. As far south as Yorkshire it is not unfrequent, 



too THE MOUNTAIN LINNET OR TWITE 

and its nest has been occasionally found in the midland counties ; 
some eggs were recently brought to me in Hertfordshire. Meyer 
relates, that having one confined in a cage he placed it in his garden 
in fine weather, in the hope that other birds of the same species 
might be attracted by its note to visit it in its confinement. His 
expectation was realized, for several wild Redpolls not only came 
into his garden and twittered their notes of recognition from the 
neighbouring trees, but actually alighted on the bars of the cage. 
This took place in the county of Surrey, and during the month 
of June, thus proving that some at least of the species remain with 
us all the year round. The nest, which is remarkably small, is 
described as being placed in the fork of an alder-tree, loosely con-! 
structed of dry grass and weeds, and lined either with the cotton of, 
the willow or the pappus of some compound flower, stated by some 
to be dandelion, by others, thistle, but perhaps, in reality, coltsfoot. 
In captivity, Redpolls are prized for their liveliness and remark-| 
able affection for each other, and, indeed, for aU little birds who 
do not disdain their attentions. They can be taught many little 
tricks also. 



THE MOUNTAIN LINNET, OR TWITE 

ACANTHIS FLAVIROSTRIS 

Upper plumage dark brown, edged with light brown ; no crimson either on the 
forehead or breast ; rump of the male tinged with red ; throat tawny 
brown, without streaks ; breast and abdomen dull white, streaked on 
the flanks with dark brown ; beak yellow ; feet and claws dark brown ; 
tail long. Length five inches and a quarter. Eggs pale bluish white, 
speckled with purple-red. 

Another northern bird, inhabiting the Arctic Regions, Scandinavia, 
and Russia, and travelling southwards in autumn. In the Orkney 
and Shetland Islands it is the most common, if not the only, species, 
and buUds its nest among the corn or heath. It breeds from 
Derbyshire and northwards, but is very local ; at one time it was 
very common on the Lancashire moors. Yellow-neb Lintie is 
a Scotch name given to it. In the countries where it is resident 
all the year round, it is very destructive to wheat in winter, and to 
turnips in summer. As soon as the latter plants appear above 
ground, the bird puUs them up, nips off the seed-leaves, and the 
field remains strewn with the fragments of the young plants. In 
winter, Mountain Linnets assemble in very large flocks, and in 
their habits resemble Common Linnets, from which they are best 
distinguished (at a distance) by their longer tails. During severe 
weather I have observed them in Norfolk, flocking to the salt 
marshes, and feeding on the seeds of saline plants, especially those 
of the shrubby sea-blite. At this season their note resembles the 



THE BULLFINCH lOi 

twitter of the Common Linnet, but is less mellow. The nest is 
placed among heath, grass, or young com, and invariably on the 
ground — in this respect differing from all other birds of the same 
family. It is constructed of dry grass, moss, and roots, and lined 
with Vcu-ious soft substances. The Mountain Linnet is generally called 
the Twite, a syllable which its simple note is thought to resemble. 
It is more shy as a rule than the Lesser Redpoll. 



THE BULLFINCH 

PYRRHULA EUROPiEA 

Crown, throat, plumage round the bill, wings and tail lustrous purple-black ; 
upper part of the back bluish ash ; cheeks, neck, breast and flanks red 
(in the female reddish brown) ; rump and abdomen pure white ; a broad 
bufE and grey band across the wings. Length six and a quarter inches. 
Eggs light greenish blue, speckled and streaked with light red and dark 
purple. 

* The Bullfinch ', said Macgillivray, usually so accurate an observer, 

* is not very common anywhere. ' From this last remark I infer 
that the author in question was never either proprietor or occupant 
of a fruit-garden in a wooded district, or he would have reported 
very differently of the frequency of the Bullfinch. During winter 
the food of these birds consists exclusively of berries of various 
kinds and seeds, especially of such weeds as thistle, rag-wort, duck- 
weed, plantains, etc., either picked up from the ground or gathered 
from herbs and shrubs. In spring, unfortunately for the gardener, 
their taste alters, and nothing will satisfy them but the blossom- 
buds of fruit-trees, especially those which are cultivated They 
attack, indeed, the buds of the sloe and hawthorn as well ; but 
of these, being valueless, no one takes note. Still keeping together 
in small family parties, all uninvited, they pay most unwelcome 
visits to gooseberries, plums, and cherries, and, if undisturbed, 
continue to haunt the same trees until aU hope of a crop is destroyed. 
Gooseberry-bushes are left denuded of flower-buds, which have 
been deliberately picked off and crushed between their strong 
mandibles, while the leaf-buds, situated principally at the extremi- 
ties of the branches, are neglected. Plum and cherry trees 
are treated in hke manner, the ground being strewed with the 
bud-scales and rudiments of flowers. Some persons endeavour 
to deter them by whitewashing the trees, and are said to find this 
plan effectual. Others wind a straw rope round the gooseberry- 
bushes, so disguising their natural appearance. This plan I 
found perfectly successful one year, but the next it was entirely 



IM PINE GROSBEAK 

without effect. A new one which I have adopted this year Is 
somewhat more complex. In addition to the straw bands, I have 
stretched long strings, with feathers attached here and there, so 
as to resemble the tail of a paper kite ; and, by way of offering 
them an inducement to stay away, I have sprinkled peas on the 
ground in an adjoining lane, in the hope that they will partially, 
at least, satisfy their hunger on these. A bird with so strong a 
beak as that of the Bullfinch is evidently designed to crush its 
food, not to swallow it whole ; accordingly, I find my peas disap- 
pearing, but the parchment-like rind is left on the ground, a sub- 
stance too indigestible even for the gizzard of a Bullfinch. This bird 
has, however, justly many friends, who assert that the buds he attacks 
are infested with concealed insects, and that the tree he strips one 
season will be heavily laden the following year. When not occupied 
in disbudding fruit-trees. Bullfinches are most frequently observed 
in tall and thick hedges, either in small flocks as described above, 
or in pairs. They are rarely met with singly, and yet less fre- 
quently associated with birds of another species. Occasionally 
a pair may be seen feeding with Sparrows and Chafi&nches in the 
farmyard ; but this society seems one of accident rather than of 
choice. When disturbed in a hedge they are singularly methodical 
in their movements : first one flies out, bounds, as it were through 
the air in a direction away from the spectator, perches on a twig in 
the thick part of the hedge, and is followed by the rest of the party 
in single file. When the passenger has approached within what 
the bird considers a safe distance, the same manoeuvre is repeated, 
each bird following, with dipping flight, the line marked out by its 
predecessor. 



PINE GROSBEAK 

PYRRHULA ENUCLEATOR 

Head and upper parts of the neck reddish orange, streaked on the back with 
dusky ; wings and tail black, the former with two white bars, the pri- 
maries and tail-feathers edged with orange, the secondaries with white 
nnder parts orange-yellow. Length seven and a quarter inches. Eggs 
white. 

A LARGE and handsome bird, inhabiting the Arctic regions during 
the summer months, and in winter descending a few degrees to the 
south in both hemispheres. It is of very rare occurrence in the 
pine-forests of Scotland, and a still more unfrequent visitor to 
England. The Pine Grosbeak, or Pine Bullfinch, is a bird of sociable 
habits, and an agreeable songster. 



THE CROSSBILL 103 

THE CROSSBILL 

LOXIA CURVIROSTRA. 

Bill equalling in length the middle toe, point of the lower mandible extending 
beyond the ridge of the upper mandible ; plumage variegated, according 
to age and sex, with green, yellow, orange, and brick-red. Length six 
and a half inches. Eggs bluish white, speckled with red-brown. 1 

The beak of this bird was pronounced by Buffon * an error and 
defect of Nature, and a useless deformity '. A less dogmatic, but 
more trustworthy authority, our countryman, Yarrell, is of a 
different opinion. * During a series of observations ', he says, 
* on the habits and structure of British birds, I have never met with 
a more interesting or more beautiful example of the adaptation of 
means to an end, than is to be found in the beak, the tongue, and 
their muscles, in the Crossbill.' No one can read the chapter 
of British Birds devoted to the Crossbill (in which the accom- 
plished author has displayed even more than his usual amount 
of research and accurate observation) without giving a ready 
assent to the propriety of the latter opinion. Unfortunately the 
bird is not of common occurrence in this country, or there are 
few who would not make an effort to watch it in its haunts, and 
endeavour to verify, by the evidence of their own eyes, the interest- 
ing details which have been recorded of its habits. I have never 
myself succeeded in catching a sight of a living specimen, and am 
therefore reduced to the necessity of quoting the descriptions of 
others. Family parties of this species visit — 1907 — a small wood of 
pine trees in the valley of the Kennet near Theale some winters, as 
well as other scattered pine-forest lands in the southern counties, 
and across the Solway and northward it nests in suitable districts. 
The Crossbill is about the size of the Common Bunting, and, 
like it and the Hawfinch, is a remarkably stout bird, having a 
strong bill, a large head, short thick neck, compact ovate body, 
short feet of considerable strength, rather long wings, and moderately 
large tail. Its plumage, in which green or red predominates, 
according to the age of the bird, is much more gaudy than that 
of our common birds, and approaches that of the Parrots, a tribe 
which it also resembles in some of its habits. Though only occas- 
ional visitors with us, Crossbills are plentiful in Germany, Bavaria, 
Sweden, and Norway aU the year round, and are occasionally mis- 
chievous in orchards and gardens, on account of their partiality 
to the seeds of apples, which they reach by splitting the fruit with 
one or two blows of their stout bills. Food of this kind, however, 
they can only obtain in autumn ; at other seasons, and, indeed, 
all the year round in districts remote from orchards, they feed 
principally on the seeds of various kinds of fir, which they extract 
from the cone by the joint action of their beak and tongue. The 



I04 THE CROSSBILL 

alder and other trees are also sometimes visited, and they have 
been noticed to resort to thistles and pick the seeds from them. 
' In the autumn of 1821 ', says MacgUlivray, ' when walking from 
Aberdeen to Elgin, by the way of Glenlivat, and along the Spey, 
I had the pleasure of observing, near the influx of a tributary of 
that river, a flock of several hundreds of Crossbills, busily engaged 
in shelling the seeds of the berries which hung in clusters on a 
clump of rowan (mountain ash) trees. So intent were they on 
satisfying their hunger that they seemed not to take the least heed 
of me ; and as I had not a gun, I was content with gazing on them 
without offering them any molestation. They clung to the twigs 
in all sorts of positions, and went through the operation of feeding 
in a quiet and business-like manner, each attending to his own 
affairs without interfering with his neighbours. It was, indeed, a 
pleasant sight to see how the little creatures fluttered among the 
twigs, aU in continued action, like so many bees on a cluster of 
flowers in sunshine after rain.' A writer in the Zoologist thus 
describes the manoeuvres of a flock which he observed in 1849, ^^ ^^^ 
county of Durham : " On the fifteenth of July when taking a drive 
in the western part of the county, where there are many thousand 
acres of fir-plantations, I had the good fortune to see a flock of 
birds cross my path, which appeared to be Crossbills ; so, leaving 
the gig, I followed some distance into a fir-plantation, where, 
to my great gratification, I found perhaps thirty or more feeding 
on some Scotch firs. The day being fine, and as they were the 
first I had seen in a state of wild nature, I watched them for about 
twenty minutes. Their actions are very graceful while feeding, 
hanging in every imaginable attitude, peering into the cones, 
which, if they contain seeds, are instantly severed from the branch ; 
clutched with one foot, they are instantly emptied of their contents, 
when down they come. So rapidly did they fall, that I could 
compare it to nothing better than being beneath an oak-tree in 
autumn, when the acorns are falling in showers about one's head, 
but that the cones were rather heavier. No sooner are they on 
the wing than they, one and all, commence a fretful, unhappy, 
chirl, not unlike the Redpoll's, but louder.' Another writer, in 
the Magazine of Natural History, thus records his experience : 
' From October, 1821, to the middle of May, 1822, Crossbills were 
very numerous in this county (Suffolk), and, I believe, extended 
their flight into many parts of England. Large flocks frequented 
some fir-plantations in this vicinity, from the beginning of November 
to the foUowing April. I had almost daily opportunities of watching 
their movements ; and so remarkably tame were they, that, when 
feeding on fir-trees not more than fifteen or twenty feet high, I 
have often stood in the midst of the flock, unnoticed and unsus- 
pected. I have seen them hundreds of times, when on the larch, 
cut the cone from the branch with their beak, and, holding it 



THE CROSSBILL 105 

firmly in both claws, as a hawk would a bird, extract the seeds 
with the most surprising dexterity and quickness. I do not mean 
to assert this to be their general habit ; but it was very frequently 
done when feeding on the larch. I have never seen them adopt 
the like method with cones of the Scotch or other species of pine, 
which would be too bulky for them to manage. Their method 
with these, and, of course, most frequently with the larch, was to 
hold firmly on the cone with their claws ; and, while they were 
busily engaged in this manner, I have captured great numbers ; 
many with a horse-hair noose fixed to the end of a fishing- 
rod, which I managed to slip over their head when they were feeding, 
and, by drawing it quickly towards the body, I easily secured 
them ; others I took with a limed twig, fixed in such a manner 
in the end of a rod that, on touching the bird, the twig quickly 
became disengaged, adhered to the feathers, rendered the wings 
useless, and caused the poor bird to fall perfectly helpless on the 
ground. In this manner, in windy weather, I have taken several 
from the same tree, without causing any suspicion of danger. On 
warm sunny days, after feeding a considerable time, they would 
suddenly take wing, and, after flying round for a short time, in full 
chorus, alight on some lofty tree in the neighbourhood of the 
plantations, warbling to each other in low pleasing strains. They 
would also fly from the trees occasionally for the purpose of drinking, 
their food being of so dry a nature. To captivity they were quickly 
reconciled, and soon became very famihar. As, at first, I was not 
aware what food would suit them, I fixed branches of the larch 
against the sides of the room in which I confined them, and threw 
them a quantity of the cones on the floor. I found that they not 
only closely searched the cones on the branches but, in a few days, 
not one was left in the room that had not been pried into. I gave them 
canary and hemp-seed ; but thinking the cones were both amuse- 
ment and employment, I continued to furnish them with a plenti- 
ful supply. I had about four dozen of them ; and frequently, 
whilst I have been in the room, they would fly down, seize a cone 
with their beak, carry it to a perch, quickly transfer it to their 
claws, and in a very short time empty it of its seeds, as I have 
very many times witnessed to my surprise and amusement.' These 
accounts are most interesting, yet they are all equally defective in 
failing to describe the mode in which Buffon's 'useless deformity', 
the crossed bill, is employed in the work of splitting open a cone 
This defect is supplied partially by Mr. Townson's description, 
quoted by Yarrell, and partly by the latter author in his own 
words. * Their mode of operation is thus : — ^They first fix them- 
selves across the cone, then bring the points of the mandibles from 
their crossed or lateral position, to be immediately over each other. 
In this reduced compass they insinuate their beaks between the 
scales, and then, opening them — not in the usual manner, but 



io« THE CORN (OR COMMON) BUNTING 

by drawing the inferior mandible sideways — force open the scales.* 
" ' At this stage ', Yarrell proceeds to say, ' the end of the tongue 
becomes necessary ; and this organ is no less admirably adapted 
for the service required. . . . While the points of the beak press 
the scale from the body of the cone, the tongue is enabled to direct 
and insert its cutting scoop underneath the seed, and the food thus 
dislodged is transferred to the mouth ; and when the mandibles 
are separated laterally in this operation the bird has an uninter- 
rupted view of the seed in the cavity with the eye on that side to 
which the under mandible is curved.'" 

The beak of the Crossbill then, far from being a defect in the 
organization of the bird, is a perfect implement always at its 
owner's command, faultless alike in design and execution, and 
exquisitely adapted to its work, not an easy one, of performing, 
by a single process, the office of splitting, opening, and securing the 
contents of a fir-cone, and he must be a bold man who could venture 
to suggest an improvement in its mechanism. 

It has been observed that young birds in the nest have not their 
mandibles crossed, and at this period such an arrangement would 
be useless, as they are dependent for food on the parent birds. 
It has also been observed that the side on which the upper mandible 
crosses the lower varies in different individuals ; in some it descends 
on the right side of the lower mandible, in others on the left. The 
bird appears to have no choice in the matter, but whatever direction 
it takes at first, the same it always retains. 

The nest of the Crossbill is constructed of slender twigs of fir and 
coarse dry grass, and lined with fine grass and a few hairs, and 
concealed among the upper branches of a Scotch fir. 

The Two-barred (or White-winged) Crossbill [Loxia bifasciata) is 
only a rare straggler in winter to this country. 



THE CORN (OR COMMON) BUNTING 

EMBERfZA MILIARIA 

Upper parts yellowish brown, with dusky spots ; under parts yellowish white, 
spotted and streaked with dusky. Length seven inches and a half. Eggs 
dull white, tinged with yellow, or pink, and spotted and streaked with 
dark purple brown. 

Though called the Common Bunting, this bird is by no means 
so abundant in England as the Yellow Bunting ; its name, however, 
is not misapplied, as it appears to be the most generally diffused 
of the family, being found all over the European continent, in the 
islands of the Mediterranean, in Asia Minor, and the north of 
Africa. In the latter district it appears as a bird of passage in 
November ; and about Martinmas it is so abundant as to become a 
staple article of food. At this sr.ison, all the trees in the public 



THE YELLOW BUNTING (OR YELLOW HAMMER) 107 

roads and squares of the villages are literally covered with these 
birds. Macgillivray informs us that it is more abundant in the 
outer Hebrides than in any other part of the country he has visited ; 
and that it is there generally known by the name of Sparrow. In 
England it is a constant resident ; but as it is much more abundant 
in autumn and winter than in summer, it probably receives acces- 
sions to its numbers from the north. From its habit of congre- 
gating in large flocks in the winter and alighting on arable land to 
feed, after the manner of the Skylark, it is sometimes called ' Lark 
Bunting ', and, from its favourite food, ' Corn Bunting ', It builds 
its nest in a tuft of grass, often under the shelter of briers or a 
low bush, constructing it of dry grass with a lining of hair. Its 
song, which is harsh and unmelodious, consists of a number of 
short repetitions of the same note, terminating with a long one 
lower in tone, and is generally uttered by the bird perched the 
while on some slight elevation, such as a stone or the topmost twig 
of a fiuze-bush. On first rising, it allows its legs to drop as if 
broken. 



THE YELLOW BUNTING (OR YELLOW HAMMER) 

EMBERIZA CITRINELLA 

Head, neck, breast, and lower parts bright yellow, more or less streaked with 
dusky ; flanks streaked with brownish red ; upper parts reddish brown 
spotted with dusky. Female — the yellow parts less vivid, and spotted 
with dull reddish brown. Length six inches and a quarter. Eggs pur- 
plish or yellowish white, speckled and lined with dark purple brown. 

This familiar and pretty bird appears to be generally diffused 
throughout all parts of the country, except the mountains. With 
its bright yellow head and breast it can scarcely fail to attract 
the attention of those even who are least observant of birds, and 
being by no means shy it will allow itself to be examined from a 
short distance. It may often be detected by its bright yeUow 
plumage among the leaves of a hedge, neither fluttering nor hunting 
for food, but apparently waiting to be admired. As we approach 
within a few yards it darts out into the lane with rapid flight, 
displaying the white feathers of its tail, with tawny tail-coverts, 
perches on another twig some fifty yards in advance, and, after 
one or two such manoeuvres, wheels away with rapid flight uttering 
two or three short notes as it passes over our head. In summer, 
especially during the hot afternoons of July, when most other birds 
have closed their concert for the season, it loves to perch on the 
top of a furze bush or other shrub, and repeat its simple song. 
This consists of about a dozen short notes, rapidly repeated and 
closed by a longer note, which I believe to be a musical minor 
third below. Sometimes this last note is preceded by another 



io8 THE CIRL BUNTING 

which Is a third above. The effect is in some measure plaintive, and 
gives the idea that the bird is preferring a petition. In Devon- 
shire it goes by the names of ' Little-bread-and-no-cheese ', and 
' Gladdy '. Of the latter name I do not know the origin ; that of 
the former is clear enough ; for if the words ' A little bit of bread 
and no cheese ' be chanted rapidly in one note, descending at the 
word ' cheese, chee-ese ', the performance, both in matter and style, 
will bear a close resemblance to the bird's song. It has been noticed 
that the song of the Yellow Hammer may always be heard about 
three o'clock in the afternoon. 

In winter. Yellow Hammers assemble in large flocks, often mixed 
with other hard-billed birds, and resort to ploughed fields, or 
rick-yards. MacgUlivray describes with singular accuracy their 
movements on these occasions. " When the ground is covered 
with snow, they congregate about houses, and frequent corn- 
yards along with other birds, retiring to the trees and hedges in the 
vicinity when alarmed. Their flight is undulated, light, strong, 
and graceful, and they alight abruptly, jerking out their tail- 
feathers. It is indeed surprising to see with what velocity they 
descend at once from a considerable height, to settle on the twigs 
of a tree which had attracted their notice as they were flying over 
it, and with what dexterity all the individuals of a flock perch in 
their selected places." 

The nest and eggs of the YeUow Hammer resemble those of the 
Common Bunting, but are smaller. The nest is most frequently 
placed close to the ground, or actually on the ground, among grass 
on the skirt of a meadow. Yarrell suggested that the name 
' Yellow Hammer ' should be written ' Yellow Ammer ' — the 
word Ammer being a well-known German term for Bunting. 

Collectors of eggs should carefully avoid cleaning the eggs of 
the Buntings, as the dark colouring matter with which they are 
blotched is easily rubbed ofi with a damp doth. 



THE CIRL BUNTING 

EMBERIZA CIRLUS 

rown dark olive, streaked with black ; gorget and band above and below the 
eye bright yellow ; throat, neck, and band across the eye, black ; breast 
olive-grey, bounded towards the sides by chestnut ; abdomen dull yellow ; 
back brownish red, with dusky spots. Female — the distinct patches of 
black and yellow wanting ; the dusky spots on the back larger. Eggs 
greyish, marked with ash-coloured and black blotches and lines. 

With the exception of its black chin and throat, this bird closely 
resembles the Yellow Hammer. Its habits, too, are much the same. 




<£<., 







Reed Bunting j j 



Lapland Bunting 



The Common Bunting ? 



Snow Bunting ^ $ 



(face p. 108 





Grey Headed Wagtail $ 



Grey Wagtail 



White Wagtail <y 



Yellow Wagtail $ 



Pied Wagtail 



THE REED BUNTING 109 

50 that little can be said of it which does not equally apply to its 
congener. It appears, however, to be much less patient of cold, 
and is consequently mostly confined to the southern counties of 
England, from Cornwall to Kent, and in the valley of the Thames. 
In the south of Europe, in the islands of the Mediterranean, and in 
Asia Minor, it is said to replace the Yellow Hammer, which is far less 
common. It is in the habit of perching higher than the Yellow 
Hammer, and is said to be partial to elm-trees. The present 
editor knows of its nesting recently in Hertfordshire. 



THE REED BUNTING 

EMBERIZA SCHOSNICLUS 

Head, throat and gorget black (in winter speckled with light brown) ; nape, 
sides of the neck, and a line extending to the base of the beak on each 
side, white ; upper parts variegated with reddish brown and dusky ; 
under parts white, streaked with dusky on the flanks. Female — head 
reddish brown, with dusky spots ; the white on the neck less distinct ; 
under parts reddish white, with dusky spots. Length six inches. Eggs 
purplish grey, blotched and lined with dark purple brown. 

Wherever there is water, in the shape of a lake, canal, or river, 
lined by bushes and rushes, there the Blackheaded Bunting is pretty 
sure to be seen at most seasons of the year. The male is strongly 
marked by his black head and white collar ; the head of the female 
is of the same colour as the body ; but the white coUar, of a less 
bright hue, she shares with her mate. ' Reed Bunting ' and * Reed 
Sparrow ' are other names for the same bird. In summer it rarely 
quits the vicinity of water. At this season its food consists of 
various seeds and insects ; but on the approach of winter it either 
forms small parties, or joins itself on to flocks of YeUow Hammers, 
Sparrows, and Finches, and visits the stack-yards in search of grain. 
It builds its nest in low bushes, or among aquatic plants, very near 
the ground, employing bents, bits of straw, reeds, etc., and lining 
it with hair. The eggs are four or five in number, of a duU, livid 
purple colour, marked with irregular curves or blotches of darker 
purple, which remind one of the figure of the lines, so often seen on 
bramble leaves, made by leaf -eating grubs. Its note resembles that 
of the other Buntings, and is pleasant from its association with 
walks by the river's side rather than for tone or melody. In Scot- 
land the Reed Bunting is migratory, repairing southwards in October 
and returning in March. 



IM SNOW BUNTING 

SNOW BUNTING 

PLECTROPHENAX NIVALIS 

Head, neck, portion of the wings, and lower paxts wliite ; upper parts black, 
tinged here and there with red. Length six inches and three-quarters. 
Eggs pale reddish white, speckled and spotted with brown and pale red. 

This, though a northern bird also, does not confine itself so closely 
to the Arctic regions as the preceding species ; but is of common 
occurrence in many parts of Scotland during autumn and winter 
and later in the season in various parts of England. Macgillivray, 
whose acquaintance with British birds, especially those of Scot- 
land, was very accurate, was inclined to the opinion that the Snow 
Bunting or Snow-flake breeds on the higher Grampians, having 
observed a specimen on a mountain of this range so early as the 
fourth of August, whUe the migratory flocks do not appear until two 
months later. " About the end of October it makes its appearance 
along the coasts or on the higher grounds of the south of Scotland, 
and about the same period in the south of England, although it is 
there of much less frequent occurrence. Assembled in large 
straggling flocks, or scattered in small detachments, these birds may 
be seen flying rather low along the shore, somewhat in the manner 
of Larks, moving in an undulating line by me^is of repeated 
flappings and short intervals of cessation, and uttering a soft and 
rather low cry, consisting of a few mellow notes, not unlike those 
of the Common Linnet, but intermixed at times with a sort of 
stifled scream or churr. When they have found a fitting place, 
they wheel suddenly round, and alight rather abruptly, on which 
occasion the white of the %vings and tail becomes very conspicuous. 
They run with great celerity along the sand, not by hops, like the 
Sparrows and Finches, but in a manner resembling that of the 
Larks and Pipits ; and when thus occupied, it is not in general 
difficult to approach them, so that specimens are easily procured. 
At intervals they make excursions into the neighbouring fields, 
alight in cornyards, at barn-doors, or even on the roads, where they 
obtain seeds of oats, wheat, and weeds, which I have found in 
them. In the villages along the coast of Lothian, they are some- 
times, in spring, nearly as common as Sparrows, and almost as 
familiar. About the middle of April, or sometimes a week later, 
these birds disappear and betake themselves to their summer 
residence." Its habits, as observed in England, are similiar ; but 
the flocks are generally smaller. In the Arctic regions, it is abundant 
from the middle or end of April to the end of September. Its 
nest is composed of dry grass, neatly lined with deer's hair and a 
few feathers, and is generally fixed in the crevice of a rock or in a 
loose pile of timber or stones. In spring it feeds principally 
on the buds of Saxifraga oppositifolia, one of the earliest of the 
Arctic plants ; during winter, on grass seeds. Peculiar interest 



THE WHITE WAGTAIL III 

attaches to the Snow Bunting, from the fact that It is (according to 
Linnaeus) the only living animal that has been seen two thousand 
feet above the line of perpetual snow in the Lapland Alps. Mention 
of it frequently occurs in books of Arctic travels. I must not 
omit to state that the specimens obtained in Great Britain vary 
so considerably in the proportions of white and tawny in their 
plumage, that there were at one time considered to be three several 
species. In Norfolk, I have seen them in severe weather flocking 
with Larks, among which they make themselves so conspicuous 
by the white portion of their plumage, as to be popularly known 
by the name of ' White-winged Lar^ '. 

THE LAPLAND BUNTING 

CALCARIUS LAPP6nICUS 

Crown of the head black, speckled with red ; throat and breast black, a broad 
white band extending from the eye down the sides of the neck ; nape 
bright chestnut ; back, wings, and tail variegated with brown, white, and 
black ; under parts white, spotted at the sides with dark brown. Length 
six inches and three-quarters. Eggs pale ochre-yellow, spotted with 
brown. 

This bird, as its name denotes, is an inhabitant of high northern 
latitudes ; and its occurrence In this country Is very rare. A 
few only have been shot, in places remote from each other ; and 
in the year 1843, a female was captured by a bird-catcher near 
Milnthorpe, in Westmoreland, and kept for some time in an aviary, 
where it soon became friendly with its companions and took its 
daily meal of rape, canary, or hemp seeds, and now and then a 
sprinkling of oats, with apparent satisfaction. In the Arctic 
regions it inhabits hilly and mountainous districts, and spends ^ 
most of its time on the ground, where it runs in the manner of 
Larks, and where also it builds its nest. The male is said to have 
a pleasing song, combining that of the Skylark and of the Linnet. 



FAMILY MOTACILLIDiE 
THE WHITE WAGTAIL 

MOTACILLA ALBA 

Summer — head, breast, wings and tail variegated with black and white ; chin^ 
throat, and neck black ; back and scapulars pearl-grey ; side of the neck 
as low as the wings white. Winter — chin, throat and neck white, with 
an isolated black gorget. Length nearly seven inches and a half. Eggs 
bluish white, speckled with black. 

This species has bred in England more frequently than has been 
supposed. It is not uncommon iji Cornwall in spring, and indeed 



iia THE PIED WAGTAIL 

it visits many of our English counties. Its nest has been found In 
such odd places as a Sand Martin's burrow and the middle of a 
strawberry bed. The present editor has seen it nesting among the 
spraying branches of a Virginian creeper growing over trellis work, 
A beautiful little bird it is. 



THE PIED WAGTAIL 

MOTACILLA LtJGUBRIS 

Summer — all the plumage variegated with white and black ; back and scapulars, 
chin, throat, and neck black ; a small portion of the side of the neck 
white. Winter — back and scapulars ash-grey ; chin and throat white, 
with a black, but not entirely isolated, gorget. Length seven inches and 
a half. Eggs bluish white, speckled with dark grey. 

The Pied Wagtail or Dishwasher is a familiar and favourite bird, 
best known by its habit of frequenting the banks of ponds and 
streams, where it runs, not hops about, picking insects from the 
herbage, and frequently rising with a short jerking flight, to capture 
some winged insect, which its quick eye has detected hovering in 
the air. Its simple song consists of but few notes, but the tone is 
sweet and pleasing, and is frequently heard when the bird is cleaving 
its way through the air with its peculiar flight, in which it describes 
a series of arcs, as if it were every instant on the point of alighting, 
but had altered its mind. While hunting for food, it keeps its tail 
in perpetual motion. It shows little fear of man, and frequently 
approaches his dwelling. It may often be noticed running rapidly 
along the tiles or thatch of a country house, and it not unfrequently 
takes its station on the point of a gable, or the ridge of the roof, and 
rehearses its song again and again. Very frequently, too, it perches 
in trees, especially such as are in the vicinity of ponds. Next to 
watery places, it delights in newly-ploughed fields, and hunts for 
insects on the ground, utterly fearless of the ploughman and his 
implements. A newly-mown garden lawn is another favourite 
resort ; so also is a meadow in which cows are feeding, and to these 
it is most serviceable, running in and out between their legs, and 
catching, in a short time, an incredible number of flies. The country 
scarcely furnishes a prettier sight than that afforded by a family of 
Wagtails on the short grass of a park, in July or August. A party 
of five or six imperfectly fledged birds may often be seen scattered 
over a small space of ground, runnmg about with great activity, 
and picking up insects, while the parent birds perform short aerial 
journeys above and around them, frequently alighting, and trans- 
ferring from their own mouths to those of their offspring, each in its 
turn, the insects they have just captured. They are at aJI times 
sociably disposed, being seen sometimes in small parties, and 
sometimes in large flocks. It has been noticed that when one of a 



THE GREY WAGTAIL 113 

party has been wounded by a discharge from a gun, another has 
flown down as if to aid it, or sympathize with it. Advantage is 
taken of this habit by bird-catchers in France. It is the custom to 
tie Wagtails by their feet to the clap nets, and make them struggle 
violently and utter cries of pain when a flight of the same kind of 
birds is seen approaching ; these stop their flight, and alighting are 
caught in large numbers for the spit, their flesh, it is said, being 
very delicate. They share, too, with Swallows the praise of being 
among the first to announce to other birds the approach of a Hawk, 
and join with them in mobbing and driving it away. 

About the middle of April, the Pied Wagtail begins to build its 
nest. This is usually placed in a hole in a bank or hedge, among 
stones, or in the hollow of a tree ; it is composed of dry grass and 
withered leaves, mixed with moss, and lined with wool, hair, and a 
few feathers. It is a compact and solid structure, capable of pro- 
tecting the eggs and young from the damp soil, but is not generally 
concealed with much art ; and hence perhaps it is frequently selected 
by the Cuckoo, to lay an egg in. 

Towards autumn. Pied Wagtails for the most part migrate south- 
wards. In the midland counties they may be often observed in 
large companies, in October, halting for a few days wherever food 
is abundant, and then suddenly disappearing ; after which only a 
few stragglers are seen until the spring. They return northwards 
about the beginning of March. In the extreme south of England 
they are numerous all the year round ; but as many instances have 
occurred of their alighting on a ship at sea, it is probable that the 
majority migrate to some southern climate, where the ponds do not 
freeze and gnats gambol at Christmas. 



THE GREY WAGTAIL 

MOTACILLA MELAN6pE 

Summer — head and back bluish grey ; a pale streak above the eyes ; throat 
black ; under parts bright yellow ; tail very long. Winter — chin and 
throat whitish, passing into yellow. Length seven inches and three- 
quarters. Eggs bluish white, speckled with dark grey. 

Grey Wagtail is not a very happy name for this bird, as the bright 
yellow of its neck and breast are far more conspicuous than the 
more sober grey of the head and back ; yet, as there are other 
claimants for the more appropriate names ' Yellow ', and ' Grey- 
headed ', the young observer must be cautious while reading the 
descriptions of the several members of the family, or he may 
possibly fall into error. The Grey Wagtail is among the most 
elegant and graceful of British birds, and in delicacy of colouring 
is surpassed by few. Its habits are much the same as those of the 
Pied Wagtail, but it is even hghter and more active in its move- 

B.B. I 



"4 THE GREY WAGTAIL 

merits. It is less frequently observed away from water than that 
species, and though, hke it,' not altogether a permanent resident in 
England, it visits us at the opposite season, coming in autumn, and 
retiring northwards in spring. It does not seem often to go 
so far north as Inverness-shire, but is regularly seen about Edin- 
burgh in winter ; and, on the other hand, it breeds yearly in the 
southern counties of England during summer, as on the streams 
which flow from Dartmoor. This partial migration seems to be 
characteristic of the family, and is difficult to account for. Why 
out of a certain number of birds of the same species, some should 
annually travel southwards, to supply the place of individuals be- 
longing to an allied species, who have travelled yet further to the 
south, and why, on the reappearance of the latter in spring, the first 
should return to their northern haunts, are questions more easily 
asked than answered. 

The Grey Wagtail has been repeatedly observed to indulge in a 
fancy which might weU obtain for it the name of ' window-bird '. 
The first recorded instance occurs in an early number of the Zoologist, 
where it is stated, that every morning for a period of between three 
and four months, from the beginning of October to the end of 
January, a Grey Wagtail came to the window of a country house 
as soon as the blinds were drawn up, and darted against the panes 
of glass,_ pecking with its beak as if it saw some object. It would 
then retire, and after a pause repeat the operation, but from what 
motive no one could conjecture. A lady writes to me from Dewlish 
House, Dorsetshire : ' We are constantly being disturbed by a 
yellow-breasted Water- Wagtail, which comes tapping at the windows 
or skylights, from the first streak of light till evening. What may 
be his object no one can say. It is too cold at present (March) 
for flies or spiders, and, had there been any hybemating there 
he would have eaten them long ago, he comes so frequently. 
When, on going upstairs, or when sitting down in my room, I hear 
this loud repeated tapping, it is vain for me to open the window 
and try to entice him in with crumbs ; he does not even notice them. 
This morning he woke me at about four o'clock. You would have 
said, ' Some one rapping at my window as a signal that I must get 
up.^ An old servant tells me, " Ah, 'twere just the same last 
spring, when the family were in London ; they say that it do mean 
something." ' 

The Grey Wagtail does not commonly build its nest in the southern 
counties of England, although instances have occurred. It prefers 
hilly and rocky districts. More frequently it repairs in spring to 
the north of England and south of Scotland, and builds its nest on 
the ground, or in the hole of a bank, or between large stones, and 
never at any great distance from the water. It is composed of 
stems and blades of grass, mixed with moss and wool, and lined with 
wool, hair and feathers. 



YELLOW WAGTAIL II S 

THE BLUE-HEADED (OR GREY-HEADED) WAGTAIL 

MOTACILLA FLAVA 

Top of the head, lore, and nape lead-grey ; over the eye a white streak ; 
scapulars, back, and upper tail-coverts greenish olive, tinged with yellow ; 
chin white, in the young male yellow ; under parts bright yellow. Length 
six inches and a half. Eggs mottled with yellow, brown, and grey. 

This, one of the common Yellow Wagtails of the Continent, Is a 
rare visitor in this country. Its habits, nest, and eggs, closely 
resemble those of the next species. It is the Bergeronette printaniere 
(' Little shepherdess of the Spring ') of the French, a pretty name, 
suggested by the habit, common to all the genus, of resorting to 
sheepfolds for the sake of feeding on the flies with which such places 
abound. 

YELLOW WAGTAIL 

MOTACILLA RAII 

Top of the head, lore, nape, back, and scapulars pale olive ; over the eye a 
streak of bright yellow ; chin yellow ; lower parts of the same colour. 
Length six inches and a half. Eggs whitish, mottled with yellow, 
brown, and grey. 

Ray's Wagtail, the third of the Yellow Wagtails placed on the list 
of British birds, is, next to the Pied, the best known species, being 
a regular summer visitor, and everywhere tolerably common. It 
is said by most authors to frequent the water rather less than the 
other species, and to prefer fields of peas and tares, open downs and 
sheep pastures ; but, as far as my own observation goes, I have seen 
it far more frequently near water than elsewhere, and if I wished 
to observe its habits, I should repair to the nearest canal or river, 
in the certain expectation of seeing a pair hunting among the aquatic 
weeds for their food, running along the sandy or muddy shore, 
perching on the broad leaves of the water-lily, and chasing each 
other with dipping flight through the air. I am inclined to believe 
that, though it may have often been noticed in dry pastures and 
stony places, yet that when so circumstanced, it is only engaged on an 
exploring expedition from its watery haunts ; for it is scarcely possible 
that a bird so thorouglily at home in a weedy pond, can ever be long 
absent from such a locality from choice. Its habits are precisely 
similar to those of the Pied Wagtail, except that it visits us in the 
summer exclusively, retiring southwards in autumn. It may often 
also be seen in company with that species. Besides its call-note, 
which consists of two shrill notes, the second of which is a musical 
tone lower than the first, it has a short and exceedingly sweet song, 
something like that of the Redbreast when at its best. This I have 
heard it utter wliilst it was perched on a low bush overhanging a 
pond. Its nest was probably somewhere in the neighbourhood, for 
when disturbed it flew to a short distance only, alighted on another 



11(5 THE TREE PIPIT 

twig and repeated its warble again. This was in the first week in 
May, and is the only occasion on which I ever heard it really sing. 
The nest resembles that of the Pied Wagtail, and is placed on 
the ground, usually in pea-fields. The popular name Washer- 
woman belongs to the whole family. The corresponding term, 
Lavandiere, is also found in France, and was given from the fanciful 
similarity between the beating of the water with its tail by the 
bird while tripping along the leaves of a water-lily, and the beating 
of linen in the water by washerwomen, a custom still existing in 
France, and some parts of England and Ireland. 



THE TREE PIPIT 

ANTHUS TRIVIALIS 

Hind daw shorter than the toe, and curved so as to form the fourth of a circle ; 
upper parts ash, tinged with olive, the centre of each feather dark brown ; 
a double band across the wing, formed by the yellowish white tips of the 
lesser and middle wing-coverts ; throat and re,u;ion of the eye dull white ; 
breast reddish yellow, spotted, and at the sides lightly streaked with dark 
brown. Length six inches. Eggs dull white, variously mottled with 
purple brown. 

The name Titlark is popularly applied to three common species of 
birds which were formerly placed in the same family with the Sky- 
lark. Modern ornithologists now place them in a distinct genus, 
the characters of which differ from those of the true Lark in that 
the beak is more slender and slightly notched near the point, the 
first three quills are nearly of the same length and the outer toe is 
united with the middle one as far as the first joint. In colouring, 
however, in general form, and, to a slight extent, in habits, namely, in 
the mode of feeding and nesting, there is much similarity between the 
genera ; but in the power of soaring, the Lark, though imitated by 
one species, is unrivalled. The old name Titlark, then, must be 
understood to be merged in the more distinctive title. Pipit, given 
to three common kinds which severally frequent trees, meadows, 
and the seashore. Pipits are more allied to the Wagtail family 
than with Larks. The Tree Pipit alone is a migratory species, 
arriving in this country towards the end of April, and leaving us 
in the autumn. It is common in most of the wooded counties of 
England, except the extreme west and north, but attracts little 
notice, being unostentatious in size and colour, while its song, except 
by the practised ear, is likely to be lost in the general melody of the 
woods. Yarrell's succinct account of its most characteristic habit 
is so comprehensive and accurate, that the observer who wishes to 
make its acquaintance can scarcely fail by its help to identify the bird 
on its very first occurrence. ' The male has a pretty song, perhaps 
more attractive from ^J the manner in which it is given, than the 
quality of the song itself. He generally sings while perched on the 




,'-~>', .^' 



Yellow Hammer c? 
Meadow Pipit c? 



Tree Pipit ^ 
Rock Pipit ^ 



[ face p. 116. 











"Woodlark ^ 



Shore Lark ^ 



Skylark <? 



THE MEADOW PIPIT I17 

top of a bush, or one of the upper branches of an elm-tree standing 
in a hedgerow, from which, if watched for a short time, he will be 
seen to ascend with quivering wing about as high again as the tree ; 
then, stretching out his wings and expanding his tail, he descends 
slowly by a half-circle, singing the whole time, to the same 
branch from which he started, or to the top of the nearest other 
tree ; and so constant is this habit with him, that if the observer 
does not approach near enough to alarm him, the bird may be seen 
to perform the same evolution twenty times in half an hour, and I 
have witnessed it most frequently during and after a warm May 
shower.' Its descent to the ground is generally performed in the 
same manner. Its food consists of insects and small seeds, for 
which it searches among the grass or newly-ploughed ground, with 
the walking and running gait of the Wagtails, but without their 
incessant waving movement of the taU. The nest, which is placed 
on the ground, under a tuft of grass or low bush, and very frequently 
on the skirt of a wood or copse, is composed of dry grass and smaU 
roots, and lined with finer grass and hair. The eggs are usually 
five in number, and vary so much, that extreme specimens would 
scarcely seem to belong to the same bird. In the predominating 
brown hue a tinge of red is, however, always perceptible, and by 
this it may be distinguished from the egg of the Meadow Pipit.^ The 
Tree Pipit is not seen in Ireland, or it is as yet unrecorded there. 



THE MEADOW PIPIT 

ANTHUS PRATENSIS 

Hind claw longer than the toe, slightly curved ; upper parts ash, tinged with 
olive, especially in winter, the centre of each feather dark brown ; under 
parts reddish white, streaked with dark brown. Length five inches and 
three-quarters. Eggs dull white, variously spotted and mottled with 
brown 

It may be thought at the first glimpse that a difference in the com- 
parative length of the hinder claws of two birds so much ahke as 
the Tree and Meadow Pipits is scarcely sufficient to justify a specific 
distinction ; but when it is considered that a short and curved claw 
enables a bird to retain a firm grasp of a small twig, while a long and 
almost straight one is best adapted for perching on the ground, it 
will appear at once that, however similar two birds may be in all 
other respects, yet the slight one in which they differ is the point 
on which hinges a complex scheme of habits. So the Tree Pipit 

1 ' Amongst our land birds ', saj^s Hewitson, ' there is no species the eggs 
of which present so many, or such distinct varieties, as those of the Tree Pipit. 
No one would at first believe them to be eggs of the same species; and it was 
not till I had captured the bird upon each of the varieties, and also received 
them from Mr. II. Doubleday, similarly attested, that I felt satisfactorily 
convinced upon the subject.' 



Ii8 THE ROCK PIPIT 

frequents wooded districts, and passes a large portion of its time 
aloft among the branches, while the Meadow Pipit finds its happi- 
ness on the ground. It is not, indeed, confined to the unwooded 
country, for no bird is more generally diffused, and the nests of 
both species, constructed of similar materials, may frequently be 
found in the border of the same field, yet it often finds a home 
in wild, barren districts, frequented by no other small birds but 
the Wheatear and Ring Ouzel. I have even more than once 
seen it alight on a tree, but this was apparently as a resting- 
place on which it perched previously to descending to roost among 
the heath on a common. Had I not been near, it would most 
probably have dropped at once to its hiding-place as some of its 
companions did. From its attachment to commons and waste 
lands, the Meadow Pipit has received the names of Ling-bird and 
Moss-cheeper. In winter it is more abundant in the plains, where 
it may often be seen in smaU parties searching for seeds and insects 
in recently-ploughed lands, well marked by its running gait and the 
olive tinge of its upper plumage. Its song, which is not frequently 
heard, is a short and simple strain, sometimes uttered on the ground, 
but more generally, while rising or falling, at no great height in the 
air. Its nest is orily to be distinguished from that of the Tree Pipit 
by the dark brown hue of the eggs which are somewhat similar to 
those of the Skylark, only smaller. ' The egg of the Cuckoo is more 
frequently deposited and hatched in the nest of the Meadow Pipit 
than in that of any other bird,' says Yarrell. It is interesting to 
know, now, that this bird — an immoral creature we might call it — 
which never keeps to one mate, deposits its eggs in the nests of 
about 145 species, taking the world over. 



THE ROCK PIPIT 

ANTHUS OBSCURUS 

Hind claw about equal in length to the toe, much curved ; upper plumage 
greenish brown, the centre of each feather darker brown ; a whitish streak 
over the eye ; under parts dull white, spotted and streaked with dark 
brown. Length six inches and three-quarters. Eggs dull white, mottled 
with dingy brown. 

Except that it is somewhat larger, the Rock Pipit is very similar 
in form and colour to the last species. It is, however, far more 
local, being confined exclusively to the seashore, but there of very 
common occurrence. Every one familiar with the sea-coast, must 
have observed it moving through the air with a jerking flight, 
occasionally alighting on a rock or on the beach near the line of 
high-water mark, searching busily for marine insects. In spring, 
it frequently takes little flights inland, never to a great distance, 
repeating its simple song all the while, and chasing as if in sport 



THE SKYLARK I19 

some one or other of Its companions. In winter, it seems to act 
as a guide to the smaller land birds, who, finding their supply of 
food diminished or altogether cut off by the frost, are attracted 
by its movements, and join it in searching for insects among the 
unfrozen 

'ridge of all things vile,' 

left on the shore by the receding tide. Montagu says, that it has 
never been observed to be gregarious ; his editor, however, Rennie, 
states that he has noticed it to be, if not quite gregarious, at least 
very nearly so, on the wild rocky shores of Normandy ; and, from 
my own acquaintance with its habits in Devon and Cornwall, I 
am inclined to agree with the latter. If not gregarious, it is at 
least sociable, and that too at seasons when the flocks could hardly 
have been family gatherings only. The same remark holds good 
of the Meadow Pipit. A migration southwards takes place in 
October along our east coast. 



FAMILY ALAUDID^ 
THE SKYLARK 

ALAUDA ARVENSIS 

Upper parts reddish brown, the centre of each feather dark brown ; a faint 
whitish streak above the eyes ; throat white ; neck and breast whitish, 
tinged with yellow and red, and streaked with dark brown ; tail moderate. 
Length seven inches and a quarter. Eggs greyish, thickly speckled with 
dark grey and brown. 

The Skylark, a bird whose flight and song are better known perhaps 
than those of any other bird, needs but a simple biography. The 
favourite bird of the poets, its story might be told in extracts compUed 
from various authors whose muse has led them to sing of Nature. 
Much, however, that has been written is but an amplification of 
the golden line, * Hark, the Lark at Heaven's gate sings ! ' and not 
a little is an exaggerated statement of the height to which it ascends, 
and the time which it remains suspended in mid-air. But the 
Skylark needs no panegyrists, so, with all due deference to those 
who have struck the lyre in its honour, I wiU endeavour to describe 
its habits and haunts in humble prose. 

The Skylark is a generally-diffused bird, adapted by the con- 
formation of its claws for perching on the ground, and by its length 
and power of wing for soaring high in the air. Accordingly, its 
food consists of small insects and seeds, which it collects among the 
herbage of stubble-fields, meadows and downs, or in newly-ploughed 



rao THE SKYLARK 

fields. To this fare, it adds in winter and spring the tender stalk 
of sprouting corn. Hence it is regarded with deadly hostility 
by farmers, and hence, too, the quiet of the country is much dis- 
turbed at these seasons, by boys employed to frighten it away 
by screaming and plying a peculiar kind of rattle.^ During autumn 
and winter. Larks congregate in large flocks, and occupy their time 
principally in searching for food on the ground. If disturbed, 
they rise in a scattered manner, wheel about in the air until the 
flock is formed again, chirping from time to time, and then with- 
draw, not in a compact body, but at unequal distances from the earth 
and from each other, to a new feeding-ground, over which they hover 
with circling flight for some time before alighting. On trees they never 
perch ; though one or two may occasionally be seen settled on a 
quickset hedge or a railing. In North Britain, at the approach 
of severe weather, they flock together and migrate southwards. 
Great numbers also visit England from the Continent, arriving in 
November,when they used to be caught in nets and traps for the table. 
Early in spring the flocks break up, when the birds pair, and for 
three or four months, every day and all day long, when the weather 
is fine (for the Lark dislikes rain and high winds), its song may 
be heard throughout the breadth of the land. Rising as it were by 
a sudden impulse from its nest or lowly retreat, it bursts forth, 
while as yet but a few feet from the ground, into exuberant song, and 
with its head turned towards the breeze, now ascending perpendicu- 
larly, and now veering to the right or left, but not describing circles, 
it pours forth an unbroken chain of melody, until it has reached 
an elevation computed to be, at the most, about a thousand feet. 
To an observer on earth, it has dwindled to the size of a mere 
speck ; but, as far as my experience goes, it never rises so high 
as to defy the search of a keen eye. Having reached its highest 
elevation, its ambition is satisfied without making any permanent 
stay, and it begins to descend, not with a uniform downward 
motion, but by a series of droppings with intervals of simple hover- 
ing, during which it seems to be resting on its wings. Finally, 
as it draws near the earth, it ceases its song and descends more 
rapidly, but before it touches the ground it recovers itself, sweeps 
away with almost horizontal flight for a short distance and dis- 
appears in the herbage. The time consumed in this evolution is 
at the most from fifteen to twenty minutes, more frequently less ; 
nor have I ever observed it partially descend and soar upwards 

* Farmers would effect a great saving if they sowed their wheat deeper 
than is the usual practice. The only part of the young plant which the Lark 
touches is the white stalk between the grain and the blade. In its effort to 
obtain this it frequently destroys the whole plant, if the grain has been lodged 
near the surface ; but if the young shoot has sprouted from a depth of an 
inch or more, the bird contents itself with as much as it can reach without 
digging, and leaves the grain uninjured and capable of sprouting again. 



THE SKYLARK X2l 

again. A writer in the Magazine of Natural History maintains 
that ' those acquainted with the song of the Skylark, can tell, 
without looking at them, whether the birds be ascending or station- 
ary in the air, or on their descent ; so different is the style of the 
song in each case '. Mr. Yarrell is of the same opinion, and I have 
little doubt that they are correct, though I am not certain that I 
have myself attained the skill of discriminating. In July, the 
Lark ceases its soarings and song together, but in fine weather, in 
October, it receives a new inspiration and is musical again. From 
time to time, during winter, if the season be mild, it resumes 
its aerial habits, but it neither ascends so high nor sings so long, 
two or three minutes becoming now the limits of its performance. 
Like most other birds, it sings least about noon and the first two 
hours of the afternoon ; but it begins before sunrise, having been 
heard at midsummer as early as two o'clock in the morning, and 
it sometimes continues its song tiU late on into the night, having 
been heard at ten o'clock when it was quite dark. Occasionally, 
too, it sings on the ground ; and, in a cage, as aU the world knows, 
it pours out its melody with as much spirit, as if its six inches of 
turf could be measured by acres, and the roof of its little cage were 
the vault of heaven. The following stanza in French is equally 
successful in imitating the song of the Skylark and describing its 
evolutions : 

La gentille Alouette avec son tirelire, 
Tirelire, relire et tirelirant, tire 
Vers la voute du ciel ; puis son vol en ce lien 
Vire, et semble nous dire : Adieu, adieu, adieu. 

The Lark builds its nest in a hollow in the ground, the rut of a 
cart-wheel, the depression formed by a horse's hoof, or in a hole 
which it scrapes out for itself. The nest is composed of dry grass, 
and lined with finer fibres. It lays four or five eggs, and rears two 
broods in the year. It displays great attachment to its young, 
and has been known, when disturbed by mowers, to build a dome 
over its nest, as a substitute for the natural shelter afforded by the 
grass while standing, and to remove its young in its claws to another 
place of concealment. In a cage, even the male is an excellent 
nurse. Mr. Weir mentions one which brought up several broods 
entrusted to its care, and a simLliar instance has fallen under my 
own notice. Larks frequently become the prey of the Hobby 
and Merlin, which pounce on them as they are on the point of leaving 
the ground, and bear them off with as much ease as they would a 
feather. But if an intended victim discovers its oppressor in time, 
it instantly begins to ascend with a rapidity which the other cannot 
foUow, carried on as it is by the impetus of its horizontal flight. 
The Hawk, foiled for this time, renews the chase and endeavours 
to soar above its quarry ; if it succeeds, it makes a second swoop, 
sometimes with deadly effect ; but if it fails a second time, the Lark 



ii» THE SHORE LARK 

folds its vi-ings, drops like lead to the ground, and, crouching; among 
the herbage, often escapes detection. 

THE WOODLARK 

ALAUDA ARB6rEA 
Upper parts reddish brown, the centre of each feather dark brown ; a distinct 

J'ellowish white streak above the eye passing to the back part of tlie head ; 
ower parts yellowish white, streaked with dark brown ; tail short. 
Length six inches and a half. Eggs greyish white, speckled and sometimes 
faintly streaked with brown. 

The Woodlark is much less frequent than the Skylark, and Is 
confined to certain districts, also it is only resident northwards 
up to Stirling. It is distinguished by its smaller size, short tail, 
a light mark over the eye, and by its habit of perching on trees, 
where the Skylark is never known to alight. It builds its nest 
very early in the season, sometimes so soon as the end of March, 
and probably rears several broods in the year, as it has been found 
sitting as late as September. It is consequently among the earliest 
songsters of the year, and among the last to bid adieu to simimer. 
It sings on until the occurrence of severe frosts, and its note is 
among the sweetest and most touching sounds of nature. The song, 
though of less compeiss and less varied than that of the Skylark, 
is superior in liquidness of tone, and is thought to resemble the 
syllables ' lulu ', by which name the bird is known in France. When 
soaring it may be distinguished from the Skylark not only by its 
song, but by its ascending in circles, which it describes, poets tell 
us, and perhaps correctly, with its nest for a centre. Sometimes, 
especially during sunshine after a summer shower, it alights on 
the summit of a lofty tree, to ' unthread its chaplet of musical 
pearls ', and its simpler hdu notes may be heard as it flies from 
place to place while but a few feet above the surface of the ground. 
In autumn, Woodlarks assemble in small sociable parties (but not 
in large flocks), and keep together during the winter. Early in 
spring these societies are broken up into pairs, and the business of 
the season commences. The nest is composed of bents and a little 
moss, and is lined with finer grass, and, though built on the ground, 
is generally concealed with more art than that of the Skj'lark, 
the birds availing themselves of the shelter afforded by a bush or 
tuft of grass. 

THE SHORE LARK 

OTOCORYS ALPESTRIS 
Throat, forehead, and ear-coverts yellow ; over the forehead a black band ; 
lore, moustache, and gorget black ; upper parts reddish brown ; breast 
and flanks yellowish white ; abdomen white. Length nearly seven inches. 
Eggs greyish white, spotted with pale blue and brown. 

The Shore Lark, hke the last, is a very rare visitor of Britain, 



THE SWIFT 143 

and appears to be equally uncommon in France. A few have 
been shot in Norfolk, and in the high latitudes both of the Old and 
New Worlds it is a common resident on the rocky coasts. It builds 
Its nest on the ground, and shares in the great characteristic of the 
family, that, namely, of soaring and singing simultaneously. In 
colouring, it is strongly marked by its black gorget and crest. 



ORDER PICARI^ 

FAMILY CYPSELIDiE 
THE SWIFT 

CYPSELUS ApUS 

General plumage sooty brown ; chin greyish white ; tarsi feathered ; bill 
feet, and claws, shining black. Length eight inches ; width seventeen 
inches. Eggs pure white. 

The Swift is, perhaps, the strongest and swiftest, not merely of 
the Swallow tribe, but of all birds ; hence a voyage from Southern 
Africa ^ to England is performed without overtaxing its strength. 
It stands in need of no rest after this prodigious flight, but imme- 
diately on its arrival starts with a right good will on its pursuit of 
food, as if its journey had been but a pleasant course of training 
for its daily vocation. With respect to temperature, however, 
its powers of endurance are limited ; it never proceeds far north- 
wards, and occasionally even suffers from unseasonably severe 
weather in the temperate climates where it fixes its summer residence. 
Mr. F. Smith, of the British Museum, related in the Zoologist,^ 
that, at Deal, on the eighth of July, 1856, after a mild but wet day, the 
temperature suddenly fell till it became disagreeably cold. The 
Swifts were sensibly affected by the atmospheric change ; they 
flew unsteadily, fluttered against the walls of the houses, and 
some even flew into open windows. ' W^hilst observing these 
occurrences ', he says, ' a girl came to the door to ask me if I wanted 
to buy a bat ; she had heard, she told me, that I bought aU kinds 
of bugs, and her mother thought I might want a bat. On her 
producing it, I was astonished to find it was a poor benumbed 
Swift. The girl told me they were dropping down in the streets, 
and the boys were killing all the bats ; the church, she said, was 
covered with them. Off I started to witness this strange sight and 
slaughter. True enough ; the children were charging them every- 

^ Livingstone mentions his having seen in the plains north of Kuruman a 
flock of Swifts, computed to contain upwards of 4,000 individuals. 
* September, 1856, p. 5249. 



134 THE SWIFT 

where, and on arriving at the church in Lower Street T was astonished 
to see the poor birds hanging in clusters from the eaves and cornices ; 
some clusters were at least two feet in length, and, at intervals, 
benumbed individuals dropped from the outside of the clusters. 
Many hundreds of the poor birds fell victims to the ruthless ignor- 
ance of the children.' Being so susceptible of cold, the Swift 
does not visit us untU summer may be considered to have completely 
set in. In the south it is generally seen towards the end of April, 
but it generally brings up the rear of the migratory birds by 
making its first appearance in the first or second week in May, in 
the north. 

Early in August it makes itself, for a few da5;s, more than ever 
conspicuous by its wheeling flights around the buildings which 
contain its nest, and then suddenly disappears. At this period, too, 
its note is more frequently heard than during any other part of 
its visit, and in this respect it is peculiar. As a general rule, birds 
cease their song partially, if not entirely, when their eggs are hatched. 
The new care of providing for the wants of a brood occupies their 
time too much to allow leisure for musical performance, so that 
with the exception of their call-notes, and their cries of alarm or 
defiance, they are for a season mute. An early riser, and late 
in retiring to roost, the Swift is always on the wing. Thus, whether 
hunting on his own account or on behalf of his mate and nestlings, his 
employment is unvaried, and the same amount of time is always 
at his disposal for exercising his vocal powers. These are not 
great ; he has no roundelay ; he neither warbles nor carols ; he 
does not even twitter. His whole melody is a scream, unmusical 
but most joyous ; a squeak would be a better name, but that, 
instead of conveying a notion that it results from pain, it is full 
of rollicking delight. Some compare it to the noise made by the 
sharpening of a saw ; to me it seems such an expression of pent- 
up joy as little children would make if unexpectedly released from 
school, furnished with wings, and flung up into the air for a game 
of hide-and-seek among the clouds. Such soarings aloft, such 
chasings round the pinnacles of the church-tower and the gables 
of the farm-houses, no wonder that they cannot contain them- 
selves for joy. Every day brings its picnic or village feast, with 
no weariness or depression on the morrow. 

The nest of the Swift is constructed of any scraps that the bird 
may chance to find floating in the air, or brought to it by the 
wind, for it hterally never perches on the ground, whence it rises 
with difficulty. These are rudely pressed together in any convenient 
aperture or moulding in a building, and cemented together by 
some glutinous secretion from the bird's mouth. Two eggs are 
laid, and the young, as a matter of necessity, remain in the nest 
until quite fledged. 

Another name for the Swift is Black Martin, and in heraldry 



THE NIGHTJAR M'. 

it is familiarly known as the Martlet, the figure of which is a device 
of frequent occurrence in heraldic coats of arms, and denotes that 
the original wearer of the distinction served as a crusader pilgrim. 
In Arabia it is still known by the name of Hadji, or Pilgrim, to 
denote its migratory habits. 



FAMILY CAPRIMULGIDiE 
THE NIGHTJAR 

CAPRIMULGUS EUROP^US 

General plumage ash-grey, spotted and barred with black, brown and reddish 
brown ; first three primaries with a large white patch, on the inner web ; 
two outer tail-feathers on each side tipped with white. Length ten inches 
and a quarter ; breadth twenty-two inches. Eggs whitish, beautifully 
marbled with brown and ash. 

This bird used to be described as a nocturnal robber who finds 
his way into the goat-pens, sucks the dugs of the goats, poisoning 
them to such an extent that the animals themselves are blinded, 
and their udders waste away. This fable we notice in order to 
account for the strange name Goatsucker, by which it was formerly 
so well known. The bird has, indeed, strangely enough, been known 
all over Europe by an equivalent for this name from the earliest 
times. The bird itself is perfectly inoffensive, singular in form and 
habits, though rarely seen alive near enough for its peculiarities 
of form and colour to be observed. Its note, however, is familiar 
enough to persons who are in the habit of being out late at night 
in such parts of the country as it frequents. The silence of the 
evening or midnight walk in June is occasionally broken by a deep 
churr-churr-err which seemingly proceeds from the lower bough of 
a tree, a hedge, or paling. And a whirring of the wings comes often 
from their being brought in contact as the birds twist in insect- 
hunting. ^ The churring is nearly monotonous but not quite so, 
as it occasionally rises or falls about. a quarter of a note, and appears 
to increase and diminish in loudness. Nor does it seem to proceed 
continuously from exactly the same spot, but to vary its position, 
as if the performer were either a ventriloquist or were actually 
shifting his ground. The bird perches with its feet resting length- 
wise on a branch, its claws not being adapted for grasping, and 
turns its head from side to side, thus throwing the sound as it 
were in various directions, and producing the same effect as if it 
proceeded from different places. I have repeatedly worked my 

^ Mr. Bell informs me that it is so like the croak of the Natter- Jack Toad, 
that he has more than once doubted from which of the two the sound proceeded. 



136 THE NIGHTJAR 

way close up to the bird, but as I labour under the disadvantage 
of being short-sighted, and derive little assistance from glasses 
at night, I have always failed to observe it actually perched and 
singing. In the summer of 1859 a Nightjar frequented the imme- 
diate neighbourhood of my own house, and I had many opportunities 
of listening to its note. One evening especially, it perched on a railing 
within fifty yards of the house, and I made sure of seeing it, but 
when I had approached within a few yards of the spot from whence 
the sound proceeded the humming suddenly stopped, but was 
presently again audible at the other end of the railing which ran 
across my meadow. I cautiously crept on, but with no better 
success than before. As I drew near, the bird quitted its perch, 
flew round me, coming within a few feet of my person, and, on ray 
remaining still, made itself heard from another part of the railing 
only a few yards behind me. Again and again I dodged it, but 
always with the same result ; I saw it, indeed, several times, but 
always on the wing. At last a longer interval of silence ensued, 
and when I heard the sound again it proceeded from a distant 
hedge which separated the meadow from a common. Here pro- 
bably its mate was performing the domestic duty of incubation 
cheered by the dismal ditty of her partner ; but I never saw her, 
though I undertook another nocturnal chase of the musician, hunt- 
ing him from tree to tree, but never being able to discover his 
exact position, until the cessation of the sound and the sudden 
rustling of leaves announced the fact of his having taken his 
departure. 

In the dusk of the evening the Nightjar may commonly be seen 
hawking tor moths and beetles after the manner of the Swallow- 
tribe, only that the flight is less rapid and more tortuous. I once 
saw one on the common mentioned above, hawking seemingly in 
company with Swifts and Swallows during the bright glare of a 
summer afternoon ; but most frequently it spends the day either 
resting on the ground among heath or ferns or on the branch of a 
tree, alwa3'S (according to YarreU and others) crouching close down 
upon it, in the line of the limb, and not across it. When perched 
on the ground it lies very close, ' not rising (a French author says) 
until the dogs are almost on it, but worth shooting in September '. 
The poet Wordsworth, whose opportunities of watching the Nightjar 
in its haunts must have been numerous, knew that the whirring 
note is an accompaniment of the chase : 

The busy Dor-Hawk chases the white moth 
With burring note 

The burring Dor-Hawk round and round is wheeling ) 

That solitary bird 

Is all that caji be heard 
In silence, deeper far than deepest noon. 

One point in the economy of the Nightjar is stiU disputed (igo8) 



THE GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER T27 

the use which it makes of its serrated middle claw. White, and 
another observer, quoted by Yarrell, have seen the bird while on 
the wing capture insects with the claw and transfer them to the 
mouth. Wilson, on the other hand, states that the use of this 
singular structure is to enable the bird to rid itself of vermin, to 
which it is much exposed by its habit of remaining at rest during 
the heat of the day. As he has actually observed a bird in captivity 
thus employing its claw, it would follow that the same organ is used 
for a twofold purpose. 

The Nightjar is a migratory bird and the last to arrive in this 
country, appearing not before the middle of May. It is found more 
or less sparingly in all parts of England, especially those which abound 
most in woods interspersed with heaths and brakes. In the wooded 
valleys of Devonshire it is of frequent occurrence, and here it has 
been known to remain so late in the season as November, whereas 
from most other locahties it migrates southwards about the middle 
or end of September. It builds no nest, but lays its singularly 
beautiful eggs, two in number, on the ground among the dry 
herbage of the common. 

Other names by which it is locally known are Fern Owl, V, heeler, 
and Nightchurr. 



FAMILY PICID^ 

Sub-Family PICINiE 

THE GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER 

DENDROCOPUS MAJOR 

Crown and upper plumage black ; a crimson patch on the back of the head , 
a white spot on each side of the neck ; scapulars, lesser wing-coverts, and 
under plumage white ; abdomen and under tail-coverts crimson ; iris 
red. Female — without the crimson on the head. Length nine inches 
and a half ; breadth fourteen inches. Eggs glossy white. 

In habits this bird closely resembles the Green Woodpecker. It 
is of less common occurrence, but by no means rare, especially in the 
wooded districts of the southern and midland counties. A writer 
in the Zoologist ^ is of opinion that it shows a decided partiality 
to fallen timber. ' In 1849 '> he sa}^, ' a considerable number 
of trees were cut down in an open part of the country near Mel- 
bourne, which were eventually drawn together and piled in lots. 
These lay for some time, and were visited almost daily by Great 

* Ypl. viii, p. 31 1 5. 



I2R THE GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER 

Spotted Woodpeckers. Their habits and manners were very 
amusing, especially whilst searching for food. They alighted on 
the timber, placed the body in a particular position, generally 
with the head downward ' [differing in this respect from the Green 
Woodpecker], ' and commenced peeking away at the bark. Piece 
by piece it feU under their bills, as chips from the axe of a woodman. 
Upon examining the bark, I found that the pieces were chipped 
away in order that the bird might arrive at a small white grub which 
lay snugly embedded in the bark ; and the adroitness of the bird in 
finding out those portions of it which contained the greatest number 
of grubs, was certainly very extraordinary. Where the birds were 
most at work on a particular tree, I shelled off the bark and found 
nearly thirty grubs in nine squares inches ; but on shelling off 
another portion from the same tree, which remained untouched, 
no grub was visible. Yet how the bird could ascertain precisely 
where his food lay was singular, as in both cases the surface of the 
bark appeared the same and bore no traces of having been per- 
forated by insects. During the day one bird chipped of! a piece 
thirty inches long and twenty wide — a considerable day's work 
for so small a workman.' Another observer states that this bird 
rarely descends to the ground, and affects the upper branches 
of trees in preference to the lower. Its note is like that of the Green 
Woodpecker. Both species are charged with resorting to gardens 
and orchards during the fruit season, not in quest of insect food ; 
but no instance of this has come under my own notice. It is said, 
too, that they eat nuts. This statement is most probably correct. 
I myself doubt whether there are many birds of any sort which 
can resist a walnut ; and I wordd recommend any one who is hospit- 
ably disposed towards the birds which frequent his garden, to 
strew the ground with fragments of these nuts. To birds who 
are exclusively vegetarians, if indeed there be any such indigenous 
to Britain, they are a natural article of diet, and as from their 
oily nature they approximate to animal matter, they are most 
acceptable to insectivorous birds. They have an advantage over 
almost every other kind of food thus exposed, that they are not 
liable to be appropriated as scraps of meat and bread are, by prowl- 
ing cats and dogs. A walnut, suspended from the bough of a tree 
by a string, will soon attract the notice of some inquisitive Tit, and, 
when once detected, will not fail to receive the visits of all birds 
of the same family which frequent the neighbourhood- A more 
amusing pendulum can scarcely be devised. To ensure the success 
of the experiment, a small portion of the shell should be removed. 







Wryneck S 
Green Woodpecker <? 



Greater Spotted Woodpecker 9 
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker cT 



[face p. ISS. 




KingEisher ^ 
Roller 



Hoopoe ^ 
Bee-eater J 



THE GREEN WOODPECKER 129 

THE LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER 

DEUDROCOPUS MINOR 

Forehead and lower parts dirty white ; crown bright red ; nape, back, and 
wings black, with white bars ; tail black, the outer feathers tipped with 
white and barred with black ; iris red. Length five inches and a half ; 
breadth twelve inches. Eggs glossy white. 

This handsome little bird resembles its congeners so closely, both 
in structure and habits, that it scarcely needs a lengthened descrip- 
tion. Resident in England but rare in Scotland and Ireland, owing 
to its fondness for high trees and its smaU size it often escapes 
notice. It lays its eggs on the rotten wood, which it has either 
pecked, or which has fallen, from the holes in trees ; they are not 
to be distinguished from those of the Wryneck. Lately (1908) a 
Scottish newspaper recorded the shooting of "that rare species, 
the Spotted Woodpecker 1" "The man with the gun" is In- 
curable. 



THE GREEN WOODPECKER 

GfecINUS VIRIDIS 

Upper plumage green ; under, greenish ash ; crown, back of the head, and 
moustaches crimson ; face black. Female — less crimson on the head ; 
moustaches black. Length thirteen inches ; breadth twenty-one inches. 
Eggs glossy white. 

One of the most interesting among the natural sounds of the 
country, is that of the 

Woodpecker tapping the hollow beech tree : 

yet one may walk through the woods many times and hear no tap- 
ping at all, and even if such a sound be detected and traced to its 
origin, it wUl often be found to proceed from the Nuthatch, who has 
wedg'^d a hazel-nut into the bark of an oak, than from the hammer- 
ing ol a Woodpecker. Yet often indeed it may be observed ascend- 
ing, by a series of starts, the trunk of a tree, inclining now a httle 
to the right, and now to the left, disappearing now and then on the 
side farthest from the spectator, and again coming into view some- 
what higher up. Nor is its beak idle ; this is employed sometimes 
in dislodging the insects which lurk in the rugged bark, and some- 
times in tapping the trunk in order to find out whether the wood 
beneath is sound or otherwise. Just as a carpenter sounds a wall 
with his hammer in order to discover where the brickwork ends 
and where lath and plaster begin, so the Woodpecker sounds the 
wooden pillar to which it is clinging, in order to discover where the 

B.B. S 



ijo THE GREEN WOODPECKER 

wood is impenetrable alike by insects and itself, and where the former 
have been beforehand with it in seeking food or shelter. Such a 
canker-spot found, it halts in its course, tears oft piece-meal a portion 
of bark and excavates the rotten wood beneath, either as far as the 
fault extends or as long as it can find food. It is, then, by no means 
a mischievous bird, but the reverse ; as it not only destroys a num- 
ber of noxious insects, but points out to the woodman, if he would 
only observe aright, which trees are beginning to decay and conse- 
quently require his immediate attention. This aspect of the Wood- 
pecker's operations is the right one and not the old idea that ' it 
is a great enemy of old trees in consequence of the holes which it 
digs in their trunks ', as some old writer states. 

But with all his digging and tapping, the sound by which the 
vicinity of a Woodpecker is most frequently detected, especially in 
spring and summer, is the unmistakable laughing note which has 
gained for him the name of ' Yaffle.' No more perhaps than the 
mournful cooing of the dove does this indicate merriment ; it is 
harsh, too, in tone ; yet it rings through the woods with such jovial 
earnestness that it is always welcome. On such occasions the bird 
is not generally, I think, feeding, for if the neighbourhood from 
which the sound proceeded be closely watched, the Yaffle may 
frequently be observed to fly away, with a somewhat heavy dipping 
flight, to another tree or grove, and thence, after another laugh, to 
proceed to a second. It is indeed oftener to be seen on the wing 
than hunting for food on the trunks of trees. Very frequently too 
it may be observed on the ground, especially in a meadow or com- 
mon in which ants abound. 

The admirable adaptation of the structure of the Woodpecker 
to its mode of life is well pointed out by Yarrell. Its sharp, hooked 
toes, pointing two each way, are eminently fitted for climbing and 
clinging. The keel of the breast-bone is remarkably shallow ; hence, 
when ascending (its invariable mode of progress) a tree, it is enabled 
to bring its body close to the trunk without straining the muscles 
of the legs. Its tail is short, and composed of unusually stiff 
feathers, which in the process of climbing are pressed inwards 
against the tree, and contribute greatly to its support. The beak 
is strong and of considerable length, and thus fitted either for digging 
into an ant-hiU or sounding the cavities of a tree ; and the tongue, 
which is unusually long, is furnished with a curious but simple 
apparatus, by which it is extended so that it can be thrust into a 
hole far beyond the point of the bill, while its tip is barbed with 
small filaments, which, like the teeth of a rake, serve to pull up the 
larva or insect into its mouth. The Woodpecker builds no nest, 
but lays five or six glossy white eggs on the fragments of the decayed 
wood in which it has excavated its nest. 

Other names by which this bird is known are Popinjay, Wood- 
sprite, Rain-bird, Hew-hole and Woodweele. 



THE WRYNECK 131 

Sub-Family lYNGINiE 
THE WRYNECK 

lYNX TORQUILLA 

Upper plumage reddish grey, irregularly spotted and lined with brown and 
black ; a broad black and brown band from the back of the head to the 
back ; throat and breast yellowish red, with dusky transverse ray^ ; 
rest of the under plumage whitish, with arrow shaped black spots ; outer 
web of the quills marked with rectangular alternate black and yellowish 
red spots ; tail-feathers barred with black zigzag bands ; beak and feet 
olive brown. Length six inches and a half ; breadth eleven inches. Eggs 
glossy white. 

The note of the Wryneck is so peculiar that it can be confounded 
with none of the natural sounds of the country ; a loud, rapid, harsh 
cry of pay-pay-pay from a bird about the size of a lark may be 
referred without hesitation to the Wryneck. Yet it is a pleasant 
sound after all — ' the merry pee-bird ' a poet calls it — and the 
untuneful minstrel is the same bird which is known by the name 
of ' Cuckoo's Mate ', and so is associated with May-days, pleasant 
jaunts into the country, hay fields, the memory of past happy days 
and the hope of others to come. This name it derives not from any 
fondness it exhibits for the society of the cuckoo, as it is a bird of 
remarkably solitary habits, but because it arrives generally a few 
days before the cuckoo. Not less singular than its note is its plum- 
age, which, though unmarked by gaudiness of colouring, is very 
beautiful, being richly embroidered as it were with brown and black 
on a reddish grey ground. In habits, it bears no marked resemblance 
to the Woodpeckers ; it is not much given to climbing and never taps 
the trunks of trees ; yet it does seek its food on decayed trees, and em- 
ploys its long horny tongue in securing insects. It darts its tongue 
with inconceivable rapidity into an ant-hill and brings it out as 
rapidly, with the insects and their eggs adhering to its viscid point. 
These constitute its principal food, so that it is seen more frequently 
feeding on the ground than hunting on trees. But by far the strangest 
peculiarity of the Wryneck, stranger than its note and even than 
its worm-like tongue, is the wondrous pliancy of its neck, which 
one might almost imagine to be furnished with a ball and socket 
joint. A country boy who had caught one of these birds on its 
nest brought it to me on a speculation. As he held it in his hand, 
I raised my finger towards it as if about to touch its beak. The 
bird watched most eagerly the movement of my finger, with no 
semblance of fear, but rather with an apparent intention of resenting 
the offer of any injury. I moved my finger to the left ; its beak 
followed the direction — the finger was now over its back, still the 
beak pointed to it. In short, as a magnetic needle follows a piece 
of steel, so the bird's beak followed my finger until it was again in 
front, the structure of the neck being such as to allow the head 



131 THE KINGFISHER 

to make a complete revolution on its axis, and this without any 
painful effort. I purchased the bird and gave it its liberty, satisfied 
to have discovered the propriety of the name Torquilla.'^ I may here 
remark that the name lynx,^ is derived from its harsh cry. Besides 
this, the proper call-note of the bird, it utters, when disturbed in its 
nest, another which resembles a hiss ; whence and partly, perhaps, 
on account of the peculiar structure of its neck, it is sometimes called 
the Snake-bird. Nest, properly speaking, it has none ; it selects 
a hole in a decaying tree and lays its eggs on the rotten wood. 
Its powers of calculating seem to be of a very low order. Yarrell 
records an instance in which four sets of eggs, amounting to 
twenty-two, were successively taken before the nest was deserted ; 
a harsh experiment, and scarcely to be justified except on the plea 
that they were taken by some one who gained his livelihood by 
selling eggs, or was reduced to a strait from want of food. A similar 
instance is recorded in the Zoologist, when the number of eggs taken 
was also twenty-two. The Wryneck is a common bird in the south- 
eastern counties of England and to the west as far as Somersetshire ; 
but I have never heard its note in Devon or Cornwall ; it is rare also 
in the northern counties. 



FAMILY ALCEDINIDiE 
THE KINGFISHER 

ALCEDO fSPIDA 

Back azure-blue ; head and wing-coverts bluish green, spotted with azure- 
blue ; under and behind the eye a reddish band passing into white, and 
beneath this a band of azure-green ; wings and tail greenish blue ; throat 
white ; under plumage rusty orange-red. Length seven inches and a 
quarter ; width ten inches. Eggs glossy white, nearly round. 

Halcyon days, every one knows, are days of peace and tranquillity, 
when all goes smoothly, and nothing occurs to ruffle the equanimity 
of the most irascible member of a household ; but it may not be 
known to all my younger readers that a bird is said to be in any way 
concerned in bringing about this happy state of things. According 
to the ancient naturalists the Halcyon, our Kingfisher, being especi- 
ally fond of the water and its products, chooses to have even a float- 
ing nest. Now the surface of the sea is an unfit place whereon to 
construct a vessel of any kind, so the Halcj'on, as any other skilful 
artisan would, puts together on land first the framework, and 

* From the Latin torqueo, ' to twist,' 

• Greek tvy^ from Iv^, to ' shriek.' 



THE KINGFISHER 133 

then the supplementary portion of its nest, the materials being 
shelly matter and spines, whence derived is unknown ; but the 
principal substance employed is fishbones. During the progress 
of the work the careful bird several times tests its buoyancy by 
actual experiment, and when satisfied that all is safe, launches 
its future nursery on the ocean. However turbulent might have 
been the condition of the water previously to this event, thenceforth 
a calm ensued, which lasted during the period of incubation ; and 
these were ' Halcyon days ' [Halcyonides dies), which set in seven 
days before the winter solstice, and lasted as many days after. 
What became of the young after the lapse of this period is not 
stated, but the deserted nest itself, called halcyoneum, identical, 
perhaps, with what we consider the shell of the echinus, or sea-urchin, 
was deemed a valuable medicine.^ 

The real nest of the Kingfisher is a collection of small fish-bones, 
which have evidently been disgorged by the old birds. A portion 
of one which I have in my possession, and which was taken about 
twenty years since from a deep hole in an embankment at Deepdale, 
Norfolk, consists exclusively of small fish-bones and scraps of the 
sheUs of shrimps. A precisely similar one is preserved in the British 
Museum, which is well worthy the inspection of the curious. It was 
found by Mr. Gould in a hole three feet deep on the banks of the 
Thames ; it was half an inch thick and about the size of a tea saucer, 
and weighed 700 grains. Mr. Gould was enabled to prove that this 
mass was deposited, as well as eight eggs laid, in the short space of 
twenty-one days. In neither case was there any attempt made by 
the bird to employ the bones as materials for a structure ; they 
were simply spread on the soil in such a way as to protect the 
eggs from damp, possessing probably no properties which made 
them superior to bents or dry leaves, but serving the purpose 
as well as anything else, and being more readily available, by a bird 
that does not peck on the ground, than materials of any other 
kind. 

The wanderer by the river's side on a bright sunny day, at any 
season, may have his attention suddenly arrested by the sight of a 
bird shooting past him, either up or down the stream, at so slight 
an elevation above the water, that he can look down on its back. 
Its flight is rapid, and the colour of the plumage so brilliant, that 
he can compare it to nothing less dazzlingly bright than the richest 
feathers of the peacock, or a newly dug specimen of copper ore. 
After an interval of a few seconds it will perhaps be followed by a 
second, its mate, arrayed in attire equally gorgeous with emerald, 
azure, and gold. Following the course of the bird, let him approach 
cautiously any pools where small fiish are likely to abound, and he 
may chance to descry, perched motionless on the lower branch 

* Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. x. cap. 32. xxxii. cap 8. 



134 THE ROLLER 

of an alder overhanging the stream, on some bending willow, or 
lichen-covered rail, the bird which but now glanced by him Uke a 
meteor. If exposed to the rays of the sun, the metallic green of its 
upper plumage is still most conspicuous ; if in the shade, or sur- 
rounded by leaves, its chestnut red breast betrays its position. 
Nof^a step further in advance, or the fisherman, intent as he is on 
his sport, will take alarm and be off to another station. With 
beak pointed downwards it is watching until one among a shoal of 
minnows or bleaks comes within a fair aim ; then with a twinkle 
of the wing it dashes head foremost from its post, plunges into the 
stream, disappears for a second, and emerges still head foremost 
with its struggling booty. A few pinches with its powerful beak, 
or a blow against its perch, deprives its prey of life, and the morsel 
is swallowed entire, head foremost. Occasionally, where convenient 
perches are rare, as is the case with the little pools left by the tide 
on the sea-shore (for the Kingfisher is common on the banks of tidal 
rivers as well as on inland streams and lakes), it hovers like a Kestrel, 
and plunges after small fish, shrimps, and marine insects. It once 
happened to me that I was angling by a river's side, quite concealed 
from view by a willow on either side of me, when a Kingfisher flew 
down the stream, and perched on my rod. I remained perfectly 
still, but was detected before an opportunity had been afforded me 
of taking a lesson from my brother sportsman. 

The Kingfisher is a permanent resident in this country, and may 
be observed, at any season, wherever there is a river, canal, or lake, 
those streams being preferred the banks of which are lined with 
trees or bushes. Like most other birds of brilliant plumage, it is 
no vocalist ; its only note being a wild piping cry, which it utters 
while on the wing. Happily the Kingfishers are again on the increase 
in our country. 



FAMILY CORACIID^ 
THE ROLLER 

CORACIAS GARRULUS 

Head, neck, and under parts tinged with various shades of light blue, varied 
with green ; back and scapulars reddish brown ; tail blue, green, and 
black. Length twelve inches and a half. Eggs smooth shining white. 

About twenty specimens in all of this bird have been observed 
in England, the one of most recent occurrence being, I believe, 



THE BEE-EATER 135 

one which was shot close to my garden, on the twentieth of 
September, 1852. The winter home of the Roller is Africa, and 
it is said to be particularly abundant in Algeria. About the 
middle of April it crosses the Mediterranean, and seems to prefer 
the north of Europe to the south as a summer residence, being more 
abundant in Germany and the south of Russia than in France, 
though many proceed no further than SicUy and Greece. Its food 
consists mainly of caterpillars and other insects. The name Roller, 
being derived directly from the French Rollier, should be pronounced 
so as to rhyme with ' dollar ' 



FAMILY MEROPID^ 
THE BEE-EATER 

MEROPS APIASTER 

Forehead white, passing into bluish green ; upper plumage chestnut ; throat 
golden yellow, bounded by a black line ; wings variegated with blue, 
brown, and green ; tail greenish blue. Length eleven inches. Eggs 
glossy white. 

This bird, which in brilliancy of plumage vies with the Humming- 
birds, possesses little claim to be ranked among soberly clad British 
birds. Stray instances are indeed met with from time to time, but 
at distant intervals. In the islands of the Mediterranean, and in 
the southern countries of Europe, they are common summer visitors, 
and in Asia Minor and the south of Russia they are yet more frequent. 
They are gregarious in habits, having been observed, both in Europe, 
their summer, and in Africa, their winter residence, to perch together 
on the branches of trees in small flocks. They also build their 
nests near each other. These are excavations in the banks of rivers, 
variously stated to be extended to the depth of from six inches to 
as .many feet. Their flight is graceful and light, resembling that 
of the Swallows. Their food consists of winged insects, especially 
bees and wasps, which they not only catch when they are 
wandering at large through the air, but watch for near their nests. 
The inhabitants of Candia and Cyprus are said to catch them by 
the help of a light silk line, to which is attached by a fish-hook a 
wild bee. The latter in its endeavour to escape soars into the air, 
and the Bee-eater seizing it becomes the prey of the aerial fisherman. 



136 THE HOOPOB 



FAMILY UPUPID^ 
THE HOOPOE 

UPUPA EPOPS 

Crest orange-red tipped vnth. black ; head, neck, and breast pale cinnamon ; 
back, wings, and tail barred with black and white ; under pairts white. 
Length twelve inches ; width nineteen inches. Eggs lavender grey, 
changing to greenish olive. 

Little appears to be known of the habits of this very foreign-looking 
bird from observation in Grtat Britain. The season at which it is 
seen in this country is usually autumn, though a few instances have 
occurred of its having bred with us. In the south of Europe and 
north of Africa it is of common occurrence as a summer visitor, but 
migrates southwards in autumn. Its English name is evidently 
derived from the French Huppe, a word which also denotes ' a 
crest ', the most striking characteristic of the bird. It is called also 
in France Puput, a word coined, perhaps, to denote the noise of 
disgust which one naturally makes at encountering an unpleasant 
odour, this, it is said, being the constant accompaniment of its nest, 
which is always found in a filthy condition, owing to the neglect of 
the parent birds in failing to remove offensive matter, in conformity 
with the laudable practice of most other birds. In spite of the 
martial appearance of its crest, it is said to be excessively timid, and 
to fly from an encounter with the smallest bird that opposes it. It 
lives principally on the ground, feeding on beetles and ants. On 
trees it sometimes perches but does not climb, and builds its nest 
in holes in trees and walls, rarely in clefts of rocks. It walks with 
a show of dignity when on the ground, erecting its crest from time 
to time. In spring the male utters a note not unlike the coo of a 
Wood-pigeon, which it repeats several times, and at other seasons it 
occasionally emits a sound something like the shrill note of the Green- 
finch. But it is no musician and is as little anxious to be heard as 
seen. The nest is a simple structure composed of a few scraps of 
dried grass and feathers, and contains from four to six eggs. It 
would breed here annually if not always shot on arrival. 



THE CUCKOO 137 



FAMILY CUCULIDiE 

THE CUCKOO 

ctJcuLUS can6rus 

Upper plumage bluish ash colour, darker on the wings, lighter on the neck and 
chest ; under pau'ts whitish with transverse dusky streaks ; quills barred 
on the inner webs with oval white spots ; tail-feathers blackish, tipped 
and spotted with white ; bill dusky, edged with yellow ; orbits and inside 
of the mouth orange-yellow ; iris and feet yellow. Young — ash-brown, 
barred with reddish brown ; tips of the feathers white ; a white spot 
on the back of the head. Length thirteen inches and a half, breadth 
twenty-three inches. Eggs varying in colour and markings. 

No bird in a state of nature utters a note approaching so closely 
the sound of the human voice as the Cuckoo ; on this account, perhaps, 
partially at least, it has at all times been regarded with especial 
Interest. Its habits have been much investigated, and they are 
found to be unlike those of any other bird. The Cuckoo was a 
puzzle to the earlier naturalists, and there are points in its biography 
which are controverted still. From the days of Aristotle to those 
of Pliny, it was supposed to undergo a metamorphosis twice a year, 
appearing during the summer months as a Cuckoo, " a bird of the 
hawk kind, though destitute of curved talons and hooked beak, and 
having the bill of a Pigeon ; should it chance to appear simultane- 
ously with a Hawk it was devoured, being the sole example of a bird 
being killed by one of its own kind. In winter it actually changed 
into a Merlin, but reappeared in spring in its own form, but with an 
altered voice, laid a single egg, or rarely two, in the nest of some other 
bird, geHerally a Pigeon, declining to rear its own young, because it 
knew itself to be a common object of hostility among all birds, and 
that its brood would be in consequence unsafe, unless it practised a 
deception. The young Cuckoo being naturally greedy, monopolized 
the food brought to the nest by its foster parents ; it thus grew 
fat and sleek, and so excited its dam with admiration of her lovely 
offspring, that she first neglected her own chicks, tlien suffered 
them to be devoured before her eyes, and finally f eU a victim herself 
to his voracious appetite." ^ — A strange fiction, yet not more strange 
than the truth, a glimmering of which appears throughout. We 
know weU enough now that the Cuckoo does not change into a 
Merlin, but migrates in autumn to the southern regions of Africa ; 
but this neither Aristotle nor Pliny could have loKJwn, for the com- 
mon belief in their days was, that a continued progress southwards 
would bring the traveller to a climate too fierce for the maintenance 
of animal life. Now the Merlin visits the south of Europe, just at 
the season when the Cuckoo disappears, and returns northwards to 
* Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. x. cap. ix. 



138 THE CUCKOO 

breed in spring, a fact in its history as little known a*; the migration 
of the Cuckoo. It bears a certain resemblance to the Cuckoo, parti- 
cularly in its barred plumage, certainly a greater one than exists 
between a caterpillar and a butterfly, so that there were some grounds 
for the belief in a metamorphosis, strengthened not a little by the 
fact that the habits of the bird were pecuhar in other respects. 
Even so late as the time of our own countrymen, WUlughby and 
Ray (1676), it was a matter of doubt whether the Cuckoo lay torpid 
in a hoUow tree, or migrated during winter. These authors, though 
they do not admit their belief of a story told by Aldrovandus of a 
certain Swiss peasant having heard the note of a Cuckoo proceed 
from a log of wood which he had thrown into a furnace, thought 
it higlily probable that the Cuckoo did become torpid during winter, 
and were acquainted with instances of persons who had heard its 
note during unusually mild winter weather. A Cuckoo which had 
probably been hatched off too late to go away with the rest remained 
about the tennis ground of a relative of the present editor 
until the middle of November, getting very tame. Then, unfortun- 
ately, a cat got it. The assertion again of the older naturalists, 
that the Cuckoo is the object of hatred among birds generally, seems 
credible, though I should be inclined to consider its habit of laying 
its eggs in the nests of other birds as the cause rather than the con- 
sequence of its unpopularity. The contrary, however, is the fact, 
numerous anecdotes of the Cuckoo showing that it is regarded by 
many other birds with a respect which amounts to infatuation, 
rather than with apprehension. The statement that it lays but 
one egg is erroneous, so also is the assertion of Willughby that it 
invariably destroys the eggs found in a nest previously to depositing 
its own. Pliny's assertion that the young bird devours its foster 
brothers and sisters is nearer the truth, but his account of its crown- 
ing act of impiety in swallowing its nurse, is, I need not say, 
altogether unfounded in fact. Having disposed of these errors, 
some of which are entertained by the credulous or ill-informed at 
the present day, I will proceed to sketch in outline the biography 
of this singular bird, as the facts are now pretty generally admitted. 
The Cuckoo arrives in this country about the middle of April ; 
the time of its coming to different countries is adapted to the time of 
the foster-parents' breeding. During the whole of its stay it leads a 
wandering life, building no nest, and attaching itself to no particular 
locality. It shows no hostility towards birds of another kind, and 
little affection for those of its own. If two males meet in the course 
of their wandering they frequently fight with mtense animosity. I 
was once witness of an encounter between two birds who chanced 
to meet in mid-air. Without alighting they attacked each other 
with fury, pecking at each other and changing places just as one 
sees two barn-door cocks fight for the supremacy of the dunghilL 
Feathers flew in profusion, and in their passion the angry birds heeded 




Crossbill, tmm. 'i S 



White Winged Crossbill (? ? 



Cuckoo 3 



[face fj. 13S. 








Yfr^^ 0^ 



' 'I 



'm 





Short-eared Owl c? 



Brown Owl. 



Barn Ow^l and Egg. 



Long-eared Owl <? young. 



THE CUCKCX) 139 

my presence so little that they came almost within arm's length of 
me. These single combats account for the belief formerly enter- 
tained that the Cuckoo was the only sort of Hawk that preyed on 
its own Idnd. The female does not pair or keep to one mate. It is, 
however, frequently accompanied by a small bird of another kind, 
said to be a Meadow Pipit. 

The Cuckoo hunts for its food both in trees and on the ground. 
On its first arrival it lives principally on beetles, but when cater- 
pillars become abundant it prefers them, especially the hairy sorts. 
In the months of May and June, the female Cuckoo lays her eggs 
(the number of which is variously estimated from five to twelve), 
choosing a separate locality for each, and that invariably the nest 
of some other bird. The nests in which the egg of a Cuckoo has 
been found in this country are those of the Hedge Sparrow, Robin, 
Redstart, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Wagtail, 
Pipit, Skylark, Yellow Bunting, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, 
Blackbird and Wren ; the Pipit being the most frequent. It has 
now been ascertained that the nests of birds in which the Cuckoo lays 
its eggs in different countries number 145 species.^ In some of these 
instances, the position and structure of the nests were such that a 
bird of so large a size could not possibly have laid an egg in the usual 
way. Hence, and from other evidence, it is pretty clear that the 
egg is in all cases laid at a distance from the nest and carried by the 
bird in her bill to its destination. The bird can have no difficulty in 
accomplishing this seemingly hard task ; for the gape of the Cuckoo 
is wide, and the egg disproportionately small, no larger in fact than 
the egg of the Skylark, a bird only a fourth of its size. The period 
during which a nest is lit for the reception of a Cuckoo's egg is short ; 
if a time were chosen between the completion of the nest and the 
laying of the first egg by the rightful owner, the Cuckoo could have 
no security that her egg would receive incubation in good time, and 
again if the hen were sitting there would be no possibility of intro- 
ducing her egg surreptitiously. She accordingly searches for a nest 
in which one egg or more is laid, and in the absence of the owner 
lays down her burden and departs. There are certain grave sus- 
picions that the intruder sometimes makes room for her own egg by 
destroying those already laid ; but this, if it be true, is exceptional. 
If it were very much larger than the rest, it might excite suspicion, 
and be either turned out, or be the cause of the nest being deserted ; 
It would require, moreover, a longer incubation than the rest, and 
would either fail to be hatched, or produce a young Cuckoo at a 
time when his foster-brothers had grown strong enough to thwart 
his evil designs. As it is, after fourteen days' incubation, the eggs 
are hatched simultaneously, or nearly so, the Cuckoo being generally 

^ Mr. Welli Bladen, of Stdue, wrote an interesting brochure outhis point. — ■ 
J. A- O. 



140 THE CUCKOO 

the first. No sooner does the young bird see ll.c day, than he pro- 
ceeds to secure for himself the whole space of the nest and the sole 
attention of his foster-parents, by insinuating himself under the 
other young birds and any eggs which may remain unhatched, and 
hurling them over the edge of the nest, where they are left to perish. 
' The singularity of its shape ', says Dr. Jenner, ' is well adapted for 
these purposes ; for, different from other newly-hatched birds, its 
back from the shoulders downwards is very broad, with a consider- 
able depression in the middle. To the question which naturally 
suggests itself, ' Why does the young Cuckoo thus monopolize the 
nest and the attentions of its foster parents ? ' the solution is plain. 
The newly-hatched bird must of necessity be less in size than the 
egg from which it proceeded, but a full-grown Cuckoo exceeds the 
dimensions of a whole brood of Pipits ; its growth therefore must 
be rapid and cannot be maintained without a large supply of food. 
But the old birds could not possibly with their utmost exertions feed 
a brood of their own kind and satisfy the demands made by the 
appetite of the voracious stranger as well. The latter consequently 
saves them from this impossible task, and, by appropriating to his 
single use the nourishment intended for a brood of four or five, not 
only makes provision for his own well-being, but helps them out of 
a difficulty. So assiduously is he taken care of that he soon becomes 
a portly bird and fills his nest ; in about three weeks he is able to 
fly, but for a period of four or five weeks more his foster-parents 
continue to feed him. It is probable that the young Cuckoo actu- 
ually exercises some fascination over other birds. There is a case 
on record in which a pair of Meadow Pipits were seen to throw out 
their own 3'oung ones to make room for the intruder. In another 
instance, a young Cuckoo which had been taken from the nest and 
was being reared by hand escaped from confinement. Having one 
of its wings cut, it could not fly, but was found again, at the expira- 
tion of a month, within a few fields of the house where it was reared, 
and several little wild birds were in the act of feeding it. The 
Bishop of Norwich ^ mentions two instances in which a young 
Cuckoo in captivity was fed by a young Thrush which had only just 
learnt to feed itself. 

In the days when omens were observed, it was considered a matter 
of high import to hear the song of the Nightingale before that of 
the Cuckoo. Thus Chaucer says : 

it was a commone tale 
That it were gode to here the Nightingale, 
Moche rathir * than the lewde * Cuckowe singe. 

So, when on a certain occasion he heard the Cuckoo first, and was 
troubled in consequence, he represents the Nightingale as thus 
addressing him : 

» Familiar History of Birds. " Earlier. • Unskilful. 



THE CUCKOO 141 

be thou not dismaied 
For thou have herd the Cuckow erst than me, 
For if I live it shall amendid be 
The nexte Male, if I be not afraied. 

More recently Milton thus addresses the Nightingale : 

Thy liquid notes that close the eye of day. 
First heard before the shallow Cuccoo's bill, 
Portend success in love. 

Whether any traces of this popular belief yet linger in our rural 
districts, I do not know ; but I can recall my childish days in the 
west of England (where there are no Nightingales), when I looked 
forward with implicit faith to the coming of the Cuckoo, to ' eat up 
the dirt ', and make the Devonshire lanes passable for children's 
spring wanderings. 

The song of the Cuckoo, I need scarcely remark, consists 
of but two notes, of which the upper is, I believe, invariably, 
E flat, the lower most frequently C natural, forming, however, 
not a perfect musical interval, but something between a minor 
and a major third. Occasionally two birds may be heard 
singing at once, one seemingly aiming at a minor, the other 
a major third ; the effect is, of course, discordant. Sometimes 
the first note is pronounced two or three times, thus ' cuck-cuck- 
cuckoo ', and I have heard it repeated rapidly many times in suc- 
cession, so as to resemble the trilling note of the Nightingale, but in 
a lower key. The note of the nestling is a shrill plaintive chirp, 
which may best be imitated by twisting a glass stopper in a bottle. 
Even the human ear has no difficulty in understanding it as a cry 
for food, of which it is insatiable. Towards the end of June the 
Cuckoo, according to the old adage, ' alters its tune ', which at 
first loses its musical character and soon ceases altogether. In July 
the old birds leave us, the males by themselves first, and the females 
not many days after ; but the young birds remain until October. 

Referring to the young cuckoo's manner of ejecting the eggs of 
its foster-parents, and the reason for this apparently cruel action, 
the editor refers our readers to Mr. W. H. Hudson's interesting 
chapter in Idle Days in Hampshire. 



149 THE BARN OWL 



ORDER STRIGES 

FAMILY STRIGID^ 
Sub-Family STRIGIN^E 

THE BARN OWL 

STRIX FLAMMEA 

Beak yelloAvish white ; upper parts light tawny yellow minutely variegated 
with brown, grey, and white ; face and lower plumage white, the feathers 
of the margin tipped with brown. Length fourteen inches ; breadth 
nearly three feet. Eggs white. 

Returning from our Summer-evening's walk at the pleasant time 
when twilight is deepening into night, when the Thrush has piped 
its last roundelay, and the Nightingale is gathering strength for a 
flesh flood of melody, a sudden exclamation from our companion 
* What was that ? ' compels us to look in the direction pointed at 
just in time to catch a glimpse of a phantom-like body disappearing 
behind the hedge-row. But that the air is still, we might have 
imagined it to be a sheet of silver paper wafted along by the wind, 
so lightly and noiselessly did it pass on. We know, however, that 
a pair of Barn Owls have appropriated these hunting-grounds, and 
that this is their time of sallying forth ; we are aware, too, how 
stealthily they fly along the lanes, dipping behind the trees, search- 
ing round the hay-stacks, skimming over the stubble, and aU with 
an absence of sound that scarcely belongs to moving life. Yet, 
though by no means slow of flight, the Barn Owl can scarcely be 
said to cleave the air ; rather, it fans its way onwards with its 
down-fringed wings, and the air, thus softly treated, quietly yields 
to the gentle force, and retires without murmur to allow it a passage. 
Not without meaning is this silence preserved. The nimble little 
animals that constitute the chase, are quick-sighted and sharp of 
hearing, but the pursuer gives no notice of his approach, and they 
know not their doom till they feel the inevitable talons in their sides. 
The victim secured, silence is no longer necessary. The successful 
hunter lifts up his voice in a sound of triumph, repairs to the nearest 
tree to regale himself on his prize, and, for a few minutes — that is, 
until the chase is resumed — utters his loud weird shriek again and 
again. In the morning, the Owl will retire to his private ceU and 
will spend the day perched on end, dozing and digesting as long as 
the sunlight is too powerful for his large and sensitive eyes. Peep 
In on him in his privacy, and he wiU stretch out or move from side 
to side his grotesque head, rufiling his feathers, and hissing as 



THE BARN OWL 143 

though your performance were worthy of all condemnation. Yet 
he is a very handsome and most amusing bird, more worthy of being 
domesticated as a pet than many others held in high repute. Taken 
young from the nest, he is soon on familiar terms with his owner, 
recognizes him by a flapping of wings and a hiss whenever he 
approaches, clearing his premises of mice, and showing no signs of 
pining at the restriction placed on his liberty. Give him a bird, 
and he will soon show that, though contented with mice, he quite 
appreciates more refined fare. Grasping the body with his talons, 
he deliberately plucks off all the large feathers with his beak, tears 
off the head, and swallows it at one gulp, and then proceeds to 
devour the rest piecemeal. In a wild state his food consists mainly 
of mice, which he swallows whole, beetles, and sometimes fish, 
which he catches by pouncing on them in the water. 

The service which the Barn Owl renders to the agriculturist, by 
its consumption of rats and mice, must be exceedingly great, yet 
it is little appreciated. " When it has young ", says Mr. Waterton, 
" it will bring a mouse to the nest every twelve or fifteen minutes. 
But in order to have a proper idea of the enormous quantity of mice 
which this bird destroys, we must examine the pellets which it 
ejects from its stomach in the place of its retreat. Every peUet 
contains from four to seven skeletons of mice. In sixteen months 
from the time that the apartment of the Owl on the old gateway 
was'cleared out, there has been a deposit of above a bushel of pellets." 

The plumage of the Barn Owl is remarkable for its softness, its 
delicacy of pencilling on the upper parts and its snowy whiteness 
below. Its face is perfectly heart-shaped during life, but when the 
animal is dead becomes circular. The female is slightly larger than 
her mate, and her colours are somewhat darker. The nest of the 
Barn Owl is a rude structure placed in the bird's daily haunt. The 
eggs vary in number, and the bird lays them at different periods, 
each egg after the first being hatched (partially at least) by the 
heat of the young birds already in being. That this is always 
the case it would not be safe to assert, but that it is so sometimes 
there can be no doubt. The young birds are ravenous eaters and 
proverbially ugly ; when craving food they make a noise re- 
sembling a snore. The Barn or White Owl is said to be the 
most generally diffused of all the tribe, being found in almost all 
latitudes of both hemispheres, and it appears to be everywhere 
an object of terror to the ignorant. A bird of the night, the 
time when evil deeds are done, it bespeaks for itself an evil 
reputation ; making ruins and hollow trees its resort, it becomes 
associated with the gloomiest legends ; uttering its discordant note 
during the hours of darkness, it is rarely heard save by the benighted 
traveller, or by the weary watcher at the bed of the sick and 
dying ; and who more susceptible of alarming impressions than 
these ? It is therefore scarcely surprising that the common incident 



144 LONG-EARED OWL 

of a Screech-Owl being attracted by a solitary midnight taper to 
flutter against the window of a sick room, aiid there to utter its 
melancholy wail, should for a time shake the faith of the watcher, 
and, when repeated with the customary exaggerations, should 
obtain for the poor harmless mouser the unmerited title of ' harbinger 
of death'. 



Sub-Family SYRNIIN.'E 

LONG-EARED OWL 

Asio 6tus 

Beak black ; iris orange yellow ; egrets very long, composed of eight or ten 
black feathers, edged with yellow and white ; upper parts reddish yellow, 
mottled with brown and grey ; lower parts Ughter, with oblong streaks 
of deep brown. Length fifteen inches ; breadth thirty-eight inches. 
Eggs white. 

Though not among the most frequent of the English Owls, this 
species occurs in most of the wooded parts of England and Ireland, 
as indeed it does in nearly all parts of the world where woods are 
to be found. It is more common than is usually supposed in France, 
where it unites in its own person all the malpractices which have 
been popularly ascribed to the whole tribe of Owls. It is there 
said to be held in great detestation by all the rest of the feathered 
tribe ; a fact which is turned to good account by the bird-catcher, 
who, having set his traps and limed tviigs, conceals himself in the 
neighbourhood and imitates the note of this Owl. The little birds, 
impelled by rage or fear, or a silly combination of both, assemble 
for the purpose of mobbing the common enemy. In their anxiety 
to discern the object of their abhorrence, they fall one after another 
into the snare, and become the prey of the fowler. The Long-eared 
Owl is not altogether undeserving of the persecution which is thus 
intended for her, her principal food being field-mice, but also such 
little birds as she can surprise when asleep. In fact, she respects 
neither the person nor the property of her neighbours, making her 
home in the old nests of large birds and squirrels, and appropriating, 
as food for herself and her voracious young, the carcases of any 
that she finds herself strong enough to master and kill. 

The cry of this bird is only occasionally uttered — a sort of barking 
noise. The note of the young bird is a loud mewing and seems to 
be intended as a petition to its parents for a supply of food. A 
writer in the Zoologist} who has had many opportunities of observ- 

* VoL ii. p. s62i 



THE SHORT-EARED OWL 145 

ing this species in its native haunts, saj^s that it does not confine 
its flight entirely to the darker hours, as he has met with it in the woods 
sailing quickly along, as if hawking, on a bright summer day. It is 
curious to observe, he says, how flat they invariably make their nests, 
so much so, that it is difficult to conceive how the eggs retain their 
position, even in a slight wind, when the parent bird leaves them. 
The eggs are four to six in number, and there are grounds for 
supposing that the female bird begins to sit as soon as she has laid 
her first eg§. 



THE SHORT-EARED OWL 

ASIO ACCIPITRfNUS 

Face whitish ; beak black ; iris yellow ; egrets inconspicuous, of a few black 
feathers ; eyes encircled by brownish black ; upper plumage dusky 
brown, edged with yellow ; lower pale orange, streaked with brown. 
Length sixteen inches ; breadth thirty-eight. Eggs white. 

From the name, Hawk-Owl, sometimes given to this species, we 
should expect to find this bird not so decidedly nocturnal in its 
habits as the preceding ; and such is the case ; for, though it does 
not habitually hunt by day, it has been known to catch up chickens 
from the farmyard, and has been seen in chase of pigeons. If attacked 
during daylight, it does not evince the powerless dismay of the last 
species, but effects a masterly retreat by soaring in a spiral direction 
until it has attained an elevation to which its adversary does not 
care to follow it. Unlike its allies, it frequents neither mountains 
nor forests, but is found breeding in a few marshy or moorland 
districts; later in the year it is met with in turnip fields and 
stubbles. As many as twenty-eight were once seen in a single 
turnip-field in England ; from whence it has been inferred that in 
autumn the Short-eared Owls are gregarious, and establish them- 
selves for a time in any place they fall in with, where field-mice or 
other small quadrupeds are abundant. In England this bird is not 
uncommonly started by sportsmen when in pursuit of game. It 
then flies with a quick zig-zag motion for about a hundred yards, 
and alights on the ground, never on a tree. By some it is called 
the Woodcock-Owl, from its arriving and departing at about the 
same time with that bird ; it is not, however, invariably a bird of 
passage, since many instances are on record of its breeding in this 
country, making a rude nest in a thick bush, either on the ground, 
or close to it, and feeding its young on mice, small birds, and even 
the larger game, as Moor-fowl, a bird more than double its own 
weight. The Short-eared Owl affords a beautiful illustration of 
a fact not generally known, that the nocturnal birds of prey have 
the right and left ear differently formed, one ear being so made as 
to hear sounds from above, ^d the other from below. The opening 

B»8« ^ 



140 THE TAWNY OWL 

into the channel for conveying sound is in the right ear, placed 
beneath the transverse fold, and directed upwards, while in the left 
ear the same opening is placed above the channel for conveying 
sound, and is directed downwards. 

In the severe weather of January, 1861, I had the gratification 
of seeing three or four of these Owls among the sand-hills of the coast 
of Norfolk, near Holkham. I imagined them to be in pursuit of 
the Redwings and other small birds which had been driven by the 
intense cold to the sea-coast, since they flew about as Hawks do 
when hunting for prey, and occasionally alighted among the sand- 
hills. I even fell in with several heaps of feathers, showing where 
some unhappy bird had been picked and eaten. A few days after- 
wards, however, I inquired at another part of the coast whether 
there were any Owls there, and received for an answer, ' No, be- 
cause there are no Rabbits ' ; from which I inferred that these birds 
have the reputation of hunting larger game than Thrushes, a charge 
which the size and power of their hooked talons seem to justify. 



THE TAWNY OWL 

SYRNIUM ALtJCO 

Beak grejrish yellow ; irides bluish dusky ; upper parts reddish brown, vari- 
ously marked and spotted with dark brown, black, and grey ; large white 
spots on the scapulars and wing coverts ; primaries and tail feathers 
barred alternately with dark and reddish brown ; lower parts reddish 
white, with transverse brown bars and longitudinal dusky streaks ; legs 
feathered to the claws. Length sixteen inches ; breadth three feet. 
Eggs dull white. 

This bird, the Ulula of the ancients, took its name from the Latin 
ululare ; the word used to denote, and partially to imitate, the 
cry of the wolf ; it enjoys also the doubtful honour of giving name 
to the whole tribe of ' Owls ', whether they howl, hoot, or screech. 
This species is much more common than the Barn Owl in many 
districts, although it is decreasing in others. Owing to its nocturnal 
habits, and dusky colour, it is not so often seen as heard. It has 
many a time been rny amusement to repair, towards the close of 
a summer evening, to a wood which I knew to be the resort of these 
birds, and to challenge them to an exchange of greetings, and I 
rarely failed to succeed. Their note may be imitated so exactly 
as to deceive even the birds themselves, by forming a hollow with 
the fingers and palms of the two hands, leaving an opening only 
between the second joints of the two thumbs, and then by blowing 
with considerable force down upon the opening thus made, so as 
to produce the sound hoo-hoo-hoo-0-0-0. I have thus induced a 
bird to foUow rne for some distance, echoing my defiance or greet- 



MARSH HARRIER 147 

fng, or whatever he may have deemed it ; but I do not recollect 
that I ever caught sight of the bird. 

Squirrels, rats, mice, moles, shrews, and any small birds that he 
can surprise asleep, with insects, form his principal food. These he 
hunts by night, and retires for concealment by day to some thick 
tree or shrubbery, either in the hUl country or the plains. The 
nest, composed principally of the dried pellets of undigested bones 
and fur, which all the Owls are in the habit of disgorging, is usually 
placed in a hollow tree : here the female lays about four eggs, from 
which emerge, in due time, as many grotesque bodies enveloped in 
a soft plush of grey yarn : destined, in due time, to become Tawny 
Owls. The full-grown females are larger than the males, and, 
being of a redder tinge, were formerly considered a distinct species. 
The old birds utter their loud hoo-hou ! or io-whit, in-who I chieflj 
in the evening. 



ORDER ACCIPITRES 

FAMILY FALCONIDiE 

Sub-Family BUTEONIN^E 

MARSH HARRIER 

CIRCUS iERUGINOSUS 

Head, neck, and breast yellowish white, with numerous longitudinal brown 
streaks ; wing-coverts reddish brown ; primary quills white at the base, 
the rest black ; tail and secondaries ash-grey ; lower plumage reddish 
brown ; beak bluish black ; cere, irides, and feet yellow ; claws black. 
Length twenty inches. Eggs white. 

The Harriers are bold predatory voracious birds, having somewhat 
of the appearance and movements of the Hawks. On a closer 
inspection, however, they are seen to approach nearer in character 
to the Owls. In the first place, they hunt their prey more in the 
morning and evening than at any other time of day. In the next 
place, these twilight habits are associated with a large head, and 
a somewhat defined face formed by a circle of short feathers ; 
while the plumage generally is soft and loose, and their mode of 
hunting resembles that of the nocturnal predatory birds, rather 
than that of the Falcons. They are remarkable for the great 
difference which exists between the plumage of the two sexes, which 
has made the task of discriminating the number of species very 
difficult. Less active than the Falcons, they yet carry on a for- 



I4l HEN HARRIER 

midable war against small birds, reptiles, and mice. The Harriers 
or Harrows are so called from their harrying propensities. Of similar 
import is the etymology of the English word ' havoc', which may 
be clearly traced to the Anglo-Saxon hafoc, or hawk. The halnt 
of the Marsh Harrier is not to station itself on a tree or rock, thereon 
to explore the country ; but while hunting, it is always on the 
wing, skimming along the ground, and beating about the bushes 
with a noiseless, unsteady flight, and always taking its prey on 
the ground. Rabbit-warrens afford this bird a favourite hunting- 
ground, where it either pounces on such living animals as it can 
surprise, or performs the office of undertaker to the dead bodies 
of rabbits killed by the weasels, burying them in the grave of its 
craw. In this ignoble office it is said to be sometimes assisted 
by the Buzzard, and both birds have been accused of setting to 
work before their unhappy victim has breathed its last. On the 
seashore, the Marsh Harrier commits great depredations among 
young water-fowl, and is often mobbed and driven from the neigh- 
bourhood by the assembled old birds. The Partridge and Quail 
often, too, fall victims to its voracity, so that the Marsh Harrier 
receives no quarter from gamekeepers. It places its nest generally 
near water, in a tuft of rushes, or at the base of a bush, constructing 
it of sticks, rushes, and long grass, and lays three or four eggs. 

The Marsh Harrier is a widely dispersed species, being found, 
says Temminck, in aU countries where there are marshes. It 
occurs now but sparingly in most parts of Great Britain and Ire- 
and. It is better known as the Moor Buzzard. 



HEN HARRIER 

CIRCUS CYANEUS 

Tail longer than the wings ; third and fourth primaries of equal length j 
upper plumage of the male bluish grey ; lower white. Upper plumage 
of the female reddish brown ; lower, pale reddish yellow, with deep 
orange brown longitudinal streaks and spots. Beak black ; cere greenish 
yellow ; irides reddish brown ; feet yellow ; claws black. Length, male, 
eighteen inches ; female, twenty inches. Eggs white. 

The Hen Harrier and Ringtail were formerly considered distinct 
species ; and no wonder ; for not only are they different in size, 
but dissimilar in colour, one having the upper parts grey, the lower 
white ; and the other the upper parts reddish brown, and various 
parts of the plumage of a light colour, barred and streaked with 
deep brown. The experienced ornithologist, Montagu, suspect- 
ing that they were male and female of the same species, under- 
took to clear up the matter by rearing a brood taken from the 
same nest. The result was that at first there was no great 
difference except in size, all having the dark plumage of the Hen 




Montag-u's Harrier ? 
Pereg;rine Falcon 9 



Kestrel ? 6 
Hen Harrier 9 6 [face i>. 14S. 











Roughlegged Buzzard 
Coirimon Buzzard. 



Kite 



Honey Buzzard. 



MONTAGU'S HARRIER 149 

Harrier ; but after the first moult, the males assumed the grey and 
white plumage, while the larger birds, the females, retained the 
gayer colouring, and the latter was the Ringtail. In habits both 
birds resemble the Marsh Harrier, but do not confine themselves 
to damp places. They frequent open plains, hillsides, and inclosed 
fields, hunting a few feet above the surface of the ground, and 
beating for game as skilfully as a well-trained spaniel. The moment 
that the Harrier sees a probable victim he rises to a height of twenty 
feet, hovers for a moment, and then comes down with unerring 
aim on his prey, striking dead with a single blow, Partridge or 
Pheasant, Grouse or Blackcock, and showing strength not to be 
expected from his light figure, and slender, though sharp talons. Not 
unfrequently he accompanies the sportsman, keeping carefully 
out of shot, and pouncing on the birds, killing them, and carrying 
them off to be devoured in retirement. He preys exclusively 
on animals killed by himself, destroying a great quantity of game 
small mammals, birds and reptiles. It is a generally-diffused bird, 
by no means so common as the Kestrel and Sparrow-hawk, but is 
met with occasionally in most countries of Europe and Asia, and 
in various parts of the British Isles. It is far from improbable 
that this bird may frequently be seen, without being recognized as 
belonging to the Hawk tribe ; indeed, the beautiful form and 
light blue and white plumage, might cause it to be mistaken for a 
Gull. It builds a flatfish nest of sticks, just raised above the 
round, in a heather, or furze-bush, and lays four to six eggs. 



MONTAGU'S HARRIER 

CIRCUS CINERACEUS 

Wings a little longer than the tail ; third primary longer than the fourth and 

second ; upper plumage bluish grey ; primaries black, secondaries with 
three transverse dark bars ; lateral tail-feathers white barred with reddish 
orange ; under plumage white, variously streaked with reddish orange. 
Female — upper plumage brown of various tints ; under, pale reddish 
yellow, with longitudinal bright red streaks. Beak black ; cere deep yellow ; 
irides hazel ; feet yellow ; claws black. Length seventeen inches. 
Eggs bluish white. 

This bird, which is of rare occurrence in Britain, resembles the 
Hen Harrier very closely, both in appearance and habits, although 
it is smaller and more slender, and the wings are longer in pro- 
portion. On the Continent, especially in HoUand, it is more 
frequent. It received its name in honour of Colonel Montagu, 
who was the first to ascertain the identity of the Hen Harrier 
and Ringtail, and to separate the present species from both. 



ijO COMMON BUZZARD 



COMMON BUZZARD 

BUTEO VULGARIS 

Upper plumage, neck and head, dark brown ; lower, greyish brown, mottled 
with darker brown ; tail marked with twelve dark transverse bands ; 
beak lead-coloured ; cere, iris, and feet yellow. Length twenty to twenty- 
two inches. Eggs white, variously marked with pale greenish brown. 

The Buzzard, though ranked very properly among birds belonging 
to the Falcon tribe, is deficient in the graceful activity which char- 
acterizes the true Falcons. In sluggishness of habits it approaches 
the Vultures, and in its soft plumage and mode of flight the Owls ; 
but differs from the former in feeding on live prey as well as carrion, 
and from the latter in its dim-nal habits. In form indeed it resembles 
neither, being a bulky broad-winged Hawk, with stout legs and a 
short much-curved beak. It can fly swiftly enough when occasion 
requires, but its favourite custom is to take its station on some 
withered branch, or on the projecting comer of a rock, whence 
it can both obtsdn a good view of the surrounding country, and, 
when it has digested its last meal, saUy forth in quest of a new 
one as soon as a victim comes within its range of observation. 
It pounces on this while on the ground, and pursues its chase with a 
low skimming flight, keeping a sharp look-out for moles, young 
hares and rabbits, mice, reptiles, small birds and insects. At 
times it rises high into the air, and, soaring in circles, examines the 
surface of the ground for carrion. It has neither the spirit nor 
daring of the noble Falcons, submitting patiently to the attacks 
of birds much less than itself, and flying from the Magpie or Jack- 
daw. As an architect the Buzzard displays no more constructive 
skill than other birds of its tribe, buildmg its nest of a few sticks, 
either on a rock or in a tree, and not unfrequently occup5dng the 
deserted nest of some other bird. It has, however, a redeeming 
point, being a most assiduous nurse. The female sits close, and 
will allow the near approach of an intruder before she leaves her 
eggs. In captivity, strange to say, though by nature having a 
strong inclination for the flesh of chickens, she has been known 
to sit on the eggs of the domestic hen, to hatch a brood, and to 
rear them with as much solicitude as their natural mother could 
have shown, distributing to them morsels of raw meat, not com- 
prehending, of course, their repugnance to such fare, and bearing 
with extreme patience and good hmnour their unaccountable pre- 
ference for barley and crumbs of bread. The male bird is scarcely 
less affectionate as a parent : an instance being recorded of one, 
which, on the death of his partner, completed the period of incuba- 



THE HONEY BUZZARD 151 

tion and reared the young brood by himself. The Buzzard rarely 
molests game, and more than compensates for the mischief it does 
work, by the destruction of undoubted vermin ; yet the hostility 
shown by gamekeepers against all birds except those which it is 
their business to protect, has so thinned its numbers that the 
Buzzard, though once common, is now become rare. 



THE HONEY BUZZARD 

PERNIS APIVORUS 

Lores or spaces between eyes and bill are covered with feathers. The h«ad 
of male is ash-grey, his upper parts brown ; three blackish bars cross the 
tail ; upper parts white-barred and spotted with brown on the breast. 
Length twenty-two to twenty-five inches ; female sUghter the larger. 

This species visits us during May and June, and a few stay to 
nest, placing the nest upon the remains of that of some other large 
bird. Wasps, wild bees and larvae form their food in summer, but 
other insects are eaten, and sometimes mice, birds, other small 
mammals, worms and slugs. From two to four eggs are laid, both 
male and female taking part in the incubation. The sitting bird is 
regularly fed by the other. 

The Honey Buzzard has bred from the New Forest up to Aber- 
deenshire. Unfortunately, as much as £5 having been offered 
for a couple of well-marked eggs of this species in the New Forest 
by collectors, their numbers have become very few. Nearly £40 
has been offered by extravagant collectors for a good pair of the 
birds. By the year 1870 nearly all were driven away from that 
district. 



THE ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD 

BUTEO LAg6pUS 

Tarsi feathered to the claws ; plumage yellowish white, variegated with several 
shades of brown ; a broad patch of brown on the breast ; tail white in 
the basal half, the rest uniform brown ; beak black ; cere and irides 
yellow ; feathers on the legs fawn-coloured, spotted with brown ; toes 
yellow ; claws black. Length twenty-six inches. Eggs whitish, clouded 
with reddish brown. 

This bird, which is distinguished from the preceding by having 
its legs thickly clothed with long feathers, is a native of the colder 
countries of both Continents, being only an occasional visitor 



tsa THE GOLDEN EAGLE 

in Great Britain during autumn and winter. It fs sometimes seen 
in large flights on the Yarmouth Denes in October and November, 
at the same time with the Short-horned Owl. It mostly frequents 
the banks of rivers, where it feeds on vermin, reptiles, and the 
carcases of animals brought down by the floods. In softness of 
plumage and mode of flight, it resembles the Owls even more than 
the preceding species, and often extends its hunting expeditions 
until far into the evening. When not alarmed, it flies slowly and 
deliberately, and seemingly has neither the inclination nor the 
power to attack living birds, unless they have been previously 
disabled by wounds or other cause. The Rough-legged Buzzard 
builds its nest in lofty trees, and lays three or four eggs ; but 
there are no well-authenticated instances of its breeding in this 
country. 



THE SPOTTED EAGLE 

AQUILA N^VIA 

General colour reddish brown ; tail brown above ; legs feathered in front of 
the toes. Length twenty-six inches. 

This species is only a rare straggler to Great Britain. 



Sub-Family AQUILINtE 

THE GOLDEN EAGLE 
Aquila chrysaetos 

Tail longer than the wings, rounded ; plumage of the head, back of the neck 
and legs, lustrous reddish brown, of the rest of the body dark brown ; 
primaries nearly black ; secondaries brownish black ; tail dark grey, 
barred and tipped with brownish black ; beak bluish at the base, black 
at the extremity ; iris brown ; cere and feet yellow ; claws bluish black. 
Length of the male three feet, that of the female more ; breadth eight 
feet. Eggs dirty white, mottled with pale reddish brown. 

The fable of the Eagle soaring to a great height in order to enjoy 
a gaze at the sun in his unclouded brilliancy, is founded probably 
on a belief of the ancients, thus stated by the naturalist Pliny : — 
' Before its young are as yet fledged, the Eagle compels them to 
gaze at the rays of the sun, and if it observes one to wink or show 
a watery eye casts it from the nest as a degenerate offspring ; if, 
on the contrary, it preserves a steady gaze, it is saved from this 
hard fate, and brought up.'' 

' The Golden Eagle ', says Macgillivray, ' seems to prefer live 







Osprey 
Sea Eagle. 



Golden Eagle c? 
Spotted Eagle. 3 iinm. 

l^. 15'4. 






Marsh Harrier <? 



Hobby 



Merlin <? 



Sparrow Hawk ? 



THE WHITE-TAILED (SEA) EAGLE 153 

prey to carrion, and easily secures Grouse, in searching for which 
it flies low on the moors, sailing and wheeling at intervals. Hares, 
roes, and even red deer, it also attacks, but it does not haunt the 
shores for fish so much as the Sea Eagle does. There seems very 
little probability that Eagles have the sense of smell very acute, 
but that their vision is so is evident. I am not, however, inclined 
to think that they perceive objects from the vast height to which they 
sometimes soar, because I never saw one descend from such an 
elevation in a manner indicating that it had observed a carcase or 
other eatable object ; whereas, on the other hand, I have very 
frequently seen them flying along the sides of the hUls, at a small 
height, obviously in search of food, in a manner somewhat resem- 
bling that of the Sparrow-Hawk, but with much less rapidity.' 

The Golden Eagle breeds only in the Highlands, but it is not an 
unfrequent visitor to the Lowlands of Scotland in the cold season. 
Those birds which have been recorded as visiting England were 
generally not this species but the White-tailed or Sea Eagle in 
immature plumage. It prefers mountains or extensive forests, 
building its eyrie either on rocks or lofty trees. In France, Sweden, 
Spain, and Switzerland, it is frequently observed. Its note, called 
in the Highlands ' a bark ', is sharp and loud, resembling at a dis- 
tance, as, on the only occasion I ever heard it, it seemed to me, the 
croak of a Raven. It lays two or sometimes three eggs, and feeds 
its young, which are very voracious, on biids and the smaller 
quadrupeds. 



THE WHITE-TAILED (SEA) EAGLE 

HALIAETUS ALBICILLA 

Tail not longer than the wings ; upper plumage brown, that of the head and 
neck lightest, lower, chocolate brown ; tail white ; beak, cere, and feet 
yellowish white ; claws black. In young birds the tail is dark brown, and 
the beak and cere are of a darker hue. Length of the male, two feet four 
inches ; of the female, two feet ten inches. Eggs dirty white with a few 
pale red marks. 

The White-tailed Eagle, known also by the name of the Sea Eagle, 
is about equal in size to the Golden Eagle, but differs considerably 
in character and habits ; for while the latter has been known to 
pounce on a pack of Grouse and carry off two or three from before 
the very eyes of the astonished sportsman and his dogs, or to 
appropriate for his own special picking a hunted hare when about 
to become the prey of the hounds, the White-tailed Eagle has been 
observed to fly terror-struck from a pair of Skua Gulls, making 
no return for their heavy buffets but a series of dastardly shrieks. 
The ordinary food, too, of the nobler bird is Living animals, though. 



t54 THE OS PREY 

to tell the truth, he Is always ready to save himself the trouble of a 
chase, if he can meet with the carcase of a sheep or lamb ; but the 
White-tailed Eagle feeds principally on fish, water-fowl, the smaller 
quadnipeds, and offal, whether of quadnipeds, birds, or fish. On 
such fare, when pressed by hunger, he feeds so greedily that he 
gorges himself till, unable to rise, he becomes the easy prey of the 
shepherd's boy armed but with a stick or stone. The Eagle is 
sometimes seen on the southern sea-board of England in autumn 
and winter when the younger birds that have been reared in the 
north of Europe are migrating south ; but its eyries are now only 
on the west and north coasts, and especially the Shetland Islands. 
It inhabits Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Scotland, and the 
north of England, where it frequents the vicinity of the sea and 
large lakes. In winter it appears to leave the high latitudes and 
come farther south, not perhaps so much on account of cold as 
because its ordinary prey, being driven to seek a genial climate, 
it is compelled to accompany its food. Consequently it is more 
abundant in Scotland during winter than summer, and when seen 
late in autumn is generally observed to be fl>iing south, in early 
spring northwards. It builds its nest either in forests, choosing 
the summit of the loftiest trees, or among inaccessible cliffs over- 
hanging the sea. The materials are sticks, heath, tufts of grass, 
dry sea-weed, and it lays two eggs. The young are very voracious, 
and are fed by the parent birds for some time after they have 
left the nest, but when able to provide for themselves are driven 
from the neighbourhood to seek food and a home elsewhere. 



THE OSPREY 

PANDION HALIAETUS 

Wings longer than the tail ; feathers of the head and neck white, with dark 
centres ; on each side of the neck a streak of blackish brown, extending 
downwards ; upper plumage generally deep brown ; under white, tinged 
here and there with yellow, and on the breast marked with arrow-shaped 
spots ; tail-feathers barred with dusky bands ; cere and beak dark grey j 
iris yellow. Length two feet ; breadth five feet. Eggs reddish white, 
blotched and spotted with dark reddish brown. 

* Endowed with intense keenness of sight, it hovers high in the 
air, and having descried a fish in the sea, it darts down with great 
rapidity, dashes aside the water with its body, and seizes its prey 
in an instant.' So says the ancient naturalist Pliny, describing a 
bird which he calls Haliaetus, or Sea Eagle. Eighteen centuries 
later, Montagu thus described a bird, which, when he first observed 



THE OSPREY ISS 

it, was hawking for fish on the river Avon, near Aveton Gifford, in 
Devonshire : ' At last ', he says, ' its attention was arrested, and 
like the Kestrel in search of mice, it became stationary, as if examin- 
ing what had attracted its attention. After a pause of some time, 
it descended to within about fifty yards of the surface of the water, 
and there continued hovering for another short interval, and then 
precipitated itself into the water with such great celerity as to be 
nearly immersed. In three or four minutes the bird rose without 
any apparent difficulty, and carried ofi a trout of moderate size, 
and instead of alighting to regale upon its prey, soared to a prodigious 
height, and did not descend within our view.' There can be no 
reasonable doubt that the bird thus described at such distant 
intervals of time is the same, and that the Sea Eagle of the ancients 
is the Osprey of the moderns. Wilson thus eloquently describes 
its habits under the name of the " Fish Hawk ' : " Elevated on the 
high dead limb of some gigantic tree, that commands a wide view 
of the neighbouring shore and ocean, the great White-headed Eagle 
seems calmly to contemplate the motions of the various feathered 
tribes that pursue their busy vocations below. High over all these 
hovers one whose actions instantly arrest all his attention. By his 
wide curvature of wing, and sudden suspension in air, he knows him 
to be the Fish Hawk settling over some devoted victim of the deep. 
His eye kindles at the sight, and balancing himself with half -open 
wings on the branch, he watches the result. Down, rapid as an arrow 
from heaven, descends the distant object of his attention, the roar 
of its wings reaching the ear as it disappears in the deep, making 
the surges foam around. At this moment the eager looks of the 
Eagle are all ardour ; and, levelling his neck for flight, he sees the 
Fish Hawk once more emerge struggling with his prey, and mount- 
ing in the air with screams of exultation. These are the signals for 
our hero, who, launching into the air, instantly gives chase, soon 
gains on the Fish Hawk : each exerts his utmost to mount above 
the other, displaying in the rencontres the most elegant and sublime 
aerial evolutions. The unincumbered Eagle rapidly advances, 
and is just on the point of reaching his opponent, when, with a 
sudden scream, probably of despair and honest execration, the 
latter drops his fish ; the Eagle, poising himself for a moment, as 
if to take a more certain aim, descends like a whirlwind, snatches 
it in his grasp ere it reaches the water, and bears his ill-gotten booty 
silently away to the woods.' 

The Osprey has been observed on various parts of the coast of 
Great Britain and Ireland, especially in autumn, and in the neigh- 
bourhood of the Scottish Lakes, not merely as a stray visitor, but 
making itself entirely at home. It is known in Sussex and Hamp- 
shire, as the Mullet Hawk, because of its liking for that fish. It 
may be considered as a citizen of the world, for it has been found 
in various parts of Europe, the Cape of Good Hope, India, and 



ISO THE SPARROW-HAWK 

New Holland. In America, we have already seen, It is abundant. 
It builds its nest of sticks on some rock or ruin, generally near the 
water, and lays two or tliree eggs. It has not been known to breed 
in Ireland. 



Sub-Family ACCIPITRINiE 
THE SPARROW-HAWK 

accipiter nisus 

Upper plumage dark bluish grey, with a white spot on the nape of the neck ) 
lower reddish white, transversely barred with deep brown ; tail grey, 
barred with brownish black ; beak blue, lightest at the base ; cere, irides, 
and feet yellow ; claws black. Female — upper parts brown passing into 
blackish grey ; lower, grejdsh white barred with dark grey. Length, 
male twelve inches, female fifteen inches ; breadth, male twenty-four 
inches, female twenty-eight inches. Eggs bluish white, blotched and 
spotted with deep rusty brown. 

Since the introduction of firearms, the Goshawk and Sparrow- 
Hawk have lost much of their reputation, every effort being now 
made to exterminate them, for carrying on, on their own account, 
the same practices which in bygone days they were enlisted to pur- 
sue on behalf of others. For hawking, it must be remembered, was 
not exclusively a pastime followed by the high and noble for amuse- 
ment's sake, but was, in one of its branches, at least, a very con- 
venient method of supplying the table with game ; and that, too, 
at a period when there were not the same appliances, in the shape 
of turnips, oil-cake, etc., for fattening cattle and producing beef 
and mutton in unlimited quantities, that there are now. The 
produce of the fish-ponds, woods, and fields was then a matter of 
some moment, and much depended on the training of the Hawks 
and diligence of the falconer whether the daily board should be 
plentifully or scantily furnished. In recent times, even, some 
idea of the intrinsic value of a good Hawk may be gathered from 
the fact that, in Lombardy, it was thought nothing extraordinary 
for a single Sparrow-Hawk to take for his master from seventy to 
eighty Quails in a single day. In the Danubian Provinces and in 
Hungary, the practice of hunting Quails w^th Sparrow-hawks is still 
in vogue ; but w^ith us, the agile bird is left to pursue his prey on his 
own account. And right well does he exercise his calling. Unlike 
the Kestrel, which soars high in air and mostly preys on animals 
which when once seen have no power of escape, the Sparrow-Hawk 
is marked by its dashing, onward flight. Skimming rapidly across 
the open fields, by no means refusing to swoop on any bird or 
quadruped worthy of its notice, but not preferring this kind of hunt- 



THE SPARROW-HAWK 157 

Ing-ground, it wings its easy way to the nearest hedge, darts along 
by the side, turns sharply to the right or left through an opening 
caused by a gate or gap, and woe to any little bird which it may 
encounter, either perched on a twig or resting on the ground. Un- 
erring in aim, and secure of its holdfast, it allows its victims no 
chance of escape : one miserable scream, and their fate is sealed. 
And even if the prey detects its coming enemy, and seeks safety in 
flight, its only hope is to slip into the thick bushes and trust to con- 
cealment : resort to the open field is all but certain death. Nor 
is it fastidious in its choice of food — leverets, young rabbits, mice, 
partridges, thrushes, blackbirds, sparrows, larks, pipits, and many 
others are equal favourites. It resorts very frequently to the home- 
stead and farmyard, not so much in quest of chickens, which, by the 
way, it does not despise, as for the sake of the small birds which 
abound in such places. There it is a bold robber, little heeding the 
presence of men, suddenly dashing from behind some barn or corn- 
rick, and rapidly disappearing with its luckless prey struggling in 
its talons, pursued, perhaps, by the vociferous twitter of the out- 
raged flock, but not dispirited against another onslaught. This 
coursing for its prey, though the usual, is not the only method of 
furnishing his larder pursued by the Sparrow-Hawk. He has been 
known to station himself on the branch of a tree in the neighbour- 
hood of some favourite resort of Sparrows, concealed himself, but 
commanding a fair view of the flock below. With an intent as 
deadly as that of the fowler when he points his gun, he puts on the 
attitude of flight before he quits his perch, then selecting his victim, 
and pouncing on it all but simultaneously, he retires to devour his 
meal and to return to his post as soon as the hubbub he has excited 
has subsided somewhat. At times he pays dear for his temerity. 
Pouncing on a bird which the sportsman has put up and missed, he 
receives the contents of the second barrel ; making a swoop on the 
bird-catcher's call-bird, he becomes entangled in the meshes ; or 
dashing through a glazed window at a caged Canary bird, he finds 
his retreat cut off. 

As is the case with most predaceous birds, the female is larger 
and bolder than the male, and will attack birds superior to herself 
in size. Though a fierce enemy, she is an affectionate mother, and 
will defend her young at the risk of her life. She builds her nest, or 
appropriates the deserted nest of a Crow, in trees, or if they be 
wanting, in a cliff, and lays four or five eggs. The young are very 
voracious, and are fed principally on small birds, the number of 
which consumed may be inferred from the fact that no less than 
sixteen Larks, Sparrows, and other small birds, were on one occa- 
sion found in a nest, the female parent belonging to which had been 
shot while conveying to them a young bird just brought to the 
neighbourhood of the nest by the male ; the latter, it was conjec- 
tured, having brought them all, and deposited them in the nest 



IS8 THE RED KITE 

in the interval of nine hours which had elapsed between their dis- 
covery and the death of his partner. 

The Sparrow-Hawk is found in most wooded districts of Great 
Britain and Ireland, and the greater part of the Eastern Continent. 



Sub-Family MILVINiE 
THE RED KITE 

MILVUS ICTINUS 

Upper parts reddish bro\vii ; the feathers with pale edges ; those of the head 
and neck long and tapering to a point, greyish white, streaked longitu- 
dinally with brown ; lower parts rust coloured, with longitudinal brown 
streaks ; tail reddish orange, barred indistinctly with brown ; beak horn 
coloured ; cere, Lrides, and feet yellow ; claws black. Female — upper 
plumage of a deeper brown ; the feathers pale at the extremity ; head 
and neck white. Length, twenty-five inches ; breadth, five feet six 
inches. Eggs dirty white, spotted at the larger end with red-brown. 

' The Kite ', Pliny informs us, ' seems, by the movement of its tail, 
to have taught mankind the art of steering — nature pointing out 
in the air what is necessary in the sea '. The movement of the bird 
through the air indeed resembles sailing more than flying. ' One 
cannot ' says Bufion, ' but admire the manner in which the flight of 
the Kite is performed ; his long and narrow wings seem motionless ; 
it is his tail that seems to direct all his evolutions, and he moves it 
continuously ; he rises without effort, comes down as if he were 
sHding along an inclined plane ; he seems rather to swim than to 
fly ; he darts forward, slackens his speed, stops, and remains sus- 
pended or fixed in the same place for whole hours without exhibit- 
ing the smallest motion of his wings.' The Kite generally moves 
along at a moderate height, but sometimes, like the Eagle, rises 
to the more elevated regions of the air, where it may always be 
distinguished by its long wings and forked tail. 

In France, it is known by the name ' Milan Royal ', the latter title 
being given to it not on account of any fancied regal qualities, but 
because in ancient times it was subservient to the pleasures of 
princes. In those times, hawking at the Kite and Heron was the 
only kind of sport dignified with the title of ' Chase Royal ', and 
no one — not even a nobleman — could attack the Kite and Heron 
without infringing the privileges of the king. 

Though larger than the noble Falcons, it is far inferior to them in 
daring and muscular strength ; cowardly in attacking the strong, 
pitiless to the weak. It rarely assails a bird on the wing, but takes 
its prey on the ground, where nothing inferior to itself in courage 
seems to come amiss to it. Moles, rats, mice, reptiles, and partridges, 
are its common food ; it carries off also goslings, ducklings, and 



THE PEREGRINE FALCON IS9 

chickens, though it retires ignominiously before an angry hen. 
When pressed by hunger, it does not refuse the offal of animals, or 
dead fish ; but being an expert fisherman, it does not confine itself 
to dead food of this kmd, but pounces on such fish as it discerns 
floating near the surface of the water— carries them off in its talons, 
and devours them on shore. 

The Kite is more abundant in the northern than the southern 
countries of Europe, to which latter, however, numerous individuals 
migrate in autumn. It is of very rare occurrence in the southern 
counties of England, where no doubt it has gained discredit for 
many of the evil deeds of the Sparrow-Hawk. It builds its nest of 
sticks, lined with straw and moss, in lofty trees, and lays three or 
four eggs. A few still breed in some districts in Scotland, also in 
the wilder parts of Wales, but their eggs are. unfortunately, soon 
taken. 



Sub-Family FALCONIN^E 
THE PEREGRINE FALCON 

FALCO PEREGRINUS 

Tail not longer than the wings ; upper plumage dark bluish grey with darker 
bands ; head bluish black, as are also the moustaches descending from 
the gape ; lower plumage white ; breast transversely barred with brown ; 
beak blue, dairker at the point ; cere yellow ; iris dark brown ; feet 
yellow ; claws black. Female — upper plumage tinged with brown, 
lower with reddish yellow. Length fifteen inches ; female seventeen 
inches. Eggs dull light red, spotted and blotched with deep red. 

The Peregrine Falcon occupies among the ' noble ' birds of prey a 
place second only in dignity to the Gyr Falcon. Indeed, from its 
being more generally diffused and therefore more easily obtained, 
it is a question whether it was not considered, in England, at least, 
the special bird of falconry. In France it appears to have been 
used almost exclusively as the Falcon of the country ; and as the 
number of Gyr Falcons imported to England must have fallen far 
short of the demand when the gentle science was in full vogue, here 
also the Peregrine must be considered the bird of falconry. The 
' noble ' Falcons were those which flew fearlessly on any birds, 
no matter how much larger they were than themselves, and at 
once deprived their prey of life by pouncing on a vital part, devour- 
ing the head before they lacerated the carcase. The name Peregrine 
(foieigner) was given to this bird on account of its wide dispersion 
through most regions of the globe, and for the same reason it has 
iong borne in France the name of Pelerin (pilgrim), and not on 
account of its wide range in search of quarry. It is a bird of haughty 
aspect and rich colouring, sagacious, powerful, and daring ; a type 



i6o THE PEREGRINE FALCON 

of the chivalry of the Middle Ages, a veritable knight-errant, always 
armed, and ready to do battle in any cause against all comers. 

In France the Peregrine Falcon is most abundant in the marshy 
districts of the north, which are much frequented by Snipes and 
Wild Duck ; with us it is most commonly seen in those parts of the 
sea-coast where sea-fowl abound. The high cliffs of the Isle of 
Wight, Boachy Head, North Wales, and the Scottish coast have 
been favourite haunts, and there it once reigned supreme among 
the feathered tribe, but it becomes more scarce, alas ! of late. It 
makes its eyrie in the most inaccessible part of the cliff, constructing 
no nest, but laying two to four eggs in a cavity of a rock where a 
little loose earth has been deposited ; sometimes in the deserted 
nest of the Raven or Carrion Crow. If either of the old birds 
happens to be shot during the period of breeding, it is incredible in 
how short a space of time the survivor finds a new mate:. Within 
a short distance from their nest they establish a larder well sup- 
plied with Puffins, Jackdaws, and above all. Kestrels ; while the 
immediate neighbourhood is strewed with bones. Remarkable 
as are both male and female bird for muscular power and high 
courage, the latter, which is also considerably larger, is by far the 
superior. The female was, consequently, in the days of falconry 
flown at Herons and Ducks, and she was the falcon proper among 
falconers ; the male, termed a Tiercel or Tiercelet, was flown at 
Partridges and Pigeons. In their native haunts they seem to cause 
Little alarm among the Puffins and Razor-bills by which they are 
surrounded, but the sudden appearance of a pair in a part of the 
cliff frequented by Jackdaws, causes terrible consternation ; while 
any number of intruders on their own domain are driven away with 
indomitable courage. When pressed by hunger, or desirous of 
changing their diet, they condescend to attack and capture birds 
so small as a Lark, and it is remarkable that however puny may be 
the prey, the Falcon preserves its instinctive habit of dealing a 
deadly blow at once, as if afraid that under all circumstances the 
natural impulse of its quarry were to stand on the defensive. Even 
in ordinary flight the movement of its wings is exceedingly quick, 
but when it stoops on its prey its rapidity of descent is marvellous, 
accompanied too, as it is, by a sound that may be heard at a dis- 
tance of two hundred yards. Perhaps no bird has had more written 
about it than this Falcon, numerous treatises have been composed 
on the art of ' reclaiming ' it, or training it for hawking, and the 
proper method of conducting the sport. We have at present space 
only to add a few words on the latter subject. The art of the 
falconer is to intercept the Herons when flying against the wind. 
When a Heron passes, a cast or couple of Falcons are thrown off, 
which dart into the air, fl>'ing in a spiral direction to get above the 
Heron. As soon as the first has attained the necessary elevation, 
she makes a stoop, and if she misses, a second stoop is made by the 



THE HOBBY l6i 

other In her turn. When one has succeeded in striking its prej', 
the other joins in the attack, and all three birds come to the 
ground together, buoyed in their descent by their expanded wings. 
The falconer now comes to the rescue, for though the Heron makes 
no resistance in the air, as soon as it reaches the ground it uses 
its formidable beak in defence, and unless prevented may work much 
mischief to its pursuers. 

As when a cast of Faulcons make their flight 

At an Heronshaw that lyes aloft on wing, 

The whyles they strike at him with heedlesse might 

The wary foule his bill doth backward wring. 

On which the first, whose force her first doth bring, 

Herselfe quite through the bodie doth engore, 

And falleth downe to ground like senselesse thing, 

But th' other, not so swift as she before, 

Fayles of her souse, and passing by doth hurt no more. 

Faerie Queene. 

In France the ' cast ' consisted of three Falcons, which were trained 
to perform particular duties, the first to start the game in the 
required direction, the second to keep guard over it, and the third 
to deal the fatal swoop. 
The ' Lanner ' of Pennant is a young female Peregrine. 



THE HOBBY 

FALCO SUBBUTEO 
Wings longer than the tail ; upper plumage bluish black ; beneath, reddish 
yellow, with longitudinal brown streaks ; moustaches broad, black ; 
lower tail-coverts and feathers on the leg reddish ; beak bluish, darker 
at the tip ; cere greenish yellow ; iris dark brown ; feet yellow ; claws 
black. Female — all the colours duller, and the streaks below broader. 
'Length twelve to fourteen inches ; breadth about two feet. Eggs 
ylellowish white, speckled with reddish brown. 

The Hobby is a less common bird in England than in France, where 
it is said to be a constant companion of the sportsman, and to be 
endowed with enough discrimination to keep out of shot. Not 
satisfied with appropriating to its own use wounded birds, it pur- 
sues and captures those which have been fired at unsuccessfully, 
and not unfrequently even those which have been put up but have 
not come within shot. It is frequently taken, too, in the nets 
spread for Larks, or inveigled into the snare of the fowler who pur- 
sues his craft with limed twigs and the imitated cry of the Owl. 
It is a bird of passage, both on the Continent and in England, arriv- 
ing and taking its departure at about the same time with the Swallow. 
In form and colouring it somewhat resembles the Peregrine Falcon, 

B.B. U 



i6a THE MERLIN 

but is much smaller and more slender ; the wings, too, are larger 
in proportion, and the dark stripes beneath are longitudinal instead 
of transverse. Its natural prey consists for the most part of Larks 
and other small birds, beetles, and other large insects. It is said 
also to prey on Swallows ; but swift as its flight undoubtedly is, 
it is somewhat doubtful whether these birds are not sufficiently 
nimble to elude it, unless, indeed, it attacks individuals exhausted 
by cold or other cause. It has been trained for hawking small birds ; 
but owing, perhaps, to its migratory habits, it was found to be im- 
patient of captivity, and was not much prized. Hobbies frequently 
hunt in pairs, and an instance has been recorded where one hunted 
a Lark in company with a Hen Harrier ; but the latter, a bird of 
heavier flight, was soon compelled to give up the chase. It builds 
its nest, or appropriates a deserted one, in high trees, and lays three 
or four eggs. 



THE MERLIN 

FALCO iESALON 

Tail longer than the wings ; upper plumage greyish blue ; lower reddish 
yellow, with longitudinal oblong dark brown spots ; tail barred with 
black ; beak bluish, darker at the tip ; cere yellow ; irides dark brown ; 
feet yellow, claws black. Female — above tinged with brown ; below, 
yellowish white. Length eleven to twelve inches ; breadth two feet. 
Eggs mottled with two shades of dark reddish brown. 

The Merlin, or Stone Falcon (so called from its habit of alighting 
on stones to watch the flight of the small birds which it intends to 
make its prey), is a beautiful little bird, but notwithstanding its 
small body ranks among the ' noble ' Falcons. Associated with 
the Sparrow-Hawk, it was, on the Continent, anciently trained to 
hunt Quails — and the old falconers are loud in its praises. In 
England, it was accounted especially the Ladies' Hawk. In a 
state of nature, it has been observed to attack the Partridge, Mag- 
pie, Starling, Blackbird, etc., but its favourite prey is the Lark; 
and it was to fly at this bird principally, that it was formerly trained. 
In hawking with Merlins, three of these birds were assigned to 
the Magpie, two to the Lark, and in the chase of the Quail and 
Land-rail, the Sparrow-Hawk was associated with it. The Merlin 
is more frequent in the northern than in the southern part of 
Great Britain, and is seen more frequently in winter than in summer, 
but is nowhere common. In Norfolk, many are caught at the 
autumnal equinox in the fowlers' nets. It occasionally, perhaps 
generally, breeds in Northumberland, Cumberland, and North 
Wales, placing its nest upon the ground amongst the heather, and 
laying four or five eggs. 



THE KESTREL 163 

THE KESTREL 

FALCO TINNUNCULUS 

Wings shorter than the tail ; upper plumage, neck and breast, dark-lead 
grey ; sides, under tail-coverts and thighs, light-yellowish red, with longi- 
tudinal narrow dark streaks ; beak blue, lighter towards the base ; cere 
and feet yellow ; irides brown ; claws black. Female — upper plumage 
and tail light red, with transverse spots and bars of dark brown ; lower, 
paler than in the male. Length fifteen inches ;" breadth thirty inches. 
Eggs reddish white, blotched and mottled with dark red-brown. 

The Kestrel being the most abundant and by far the most conspicu- 
ous in its habits of all the British birds of prey, is probably, in most 
instances, the bird which has been observed whenever the appear- 
ance of ' a Hawk ' has been mentioned. Though rapid in flight 
whenever it chooses to put forth its full powers, it is more remark- 
able for the habit which has acquired for it the name of ' Wind- 
hover ' ; and there can scarcely be any one, however unobservant, 
who makes even but an occasional expedition into the country, but 
has stopped and gazed with delight on its skilful evolutions. Sus- 
pended aloft, with its head turned towards the wind, but neither 
advancing against the breeze, nor moved by it from its position, it 
agitates its wings as regularly and evenly as if they were turned on 
a pivot by machinery. Presently, impelled as it were by a spirit 
of restlessness, it suddenly darts forwards, perhaps ascending or 
descending a few feet, and making a slight turn either to the right or 
the left. Then it skims on with extended, motionless pinions, and 
once more anchors itself to the air. But on what object is it intent 
all this while ? for that some design is present here is indubitable. 
Not surely on the capture of birds, for at that slight elevation its 
keen eye would detect the movement of a bird at a mere glance ; 
nor has it the dashing flight one would expect to see in a hunter after 
game furnished with the same organs of motion as itself. But, 
if intent on the capture of small animals which creep out of holes 
in the earth and hunt for their food among the grass, surely no 
method can be conceived of exploring the field so quickly and so 
completely. The Kestrel, then, though stigmatized by game 
keepers with an evU name, does not merit the reproaches heaped on 
it ; while to the farmer it is an invaluable ally, destroying countless 
beetles, the grubs of which would gnaw away the roots of his crops ; 
caterpillars, which would devour the foliage ; and, above all, mice, 
which would fatten on the grain. For such food its appetite is enor- 
mous, and its stomach capacious, an instance being recorded of a 
specimen having been shot, the craw of which contained no less 
than seventy-nine caterpillars, twenty-four beetles, a full-grown 
field mouse, and a leech. To this varied bill of fare it adds, as occasion 
offers, glow-worms, lizards, frogs, grasshoppers, and earth-worms. 
In the winter, indeed, when these animals have withdrawn to their 
retreats, it is compelled by hunger to provide itself \nth what my 



i64 THE KESTREL 

readers would consider more palatable food ; for now It preys on 
any birds which it is swift enough to overtake, and strong enough to 
master. The skill with which it plucks the feathers from birds before 
tearing them to pieces, certainly argues in favour of the theory that 
a bird-diet is not unnatural to it, or, that the habit, if an acquired 
one, came to an apt learner. But in autumn and winter, game- 
birds are fully fledged and being quite able to take care of themselves 
are by no means liable to fall a prey to the Kestrel. Thus, admitting, 
as we fear we must, that if, while hovering for mice, it detects a 
young Partridge in the hay-field, it is unable to withstand the 
temptation of carrying it off as a delicate repast for its young, 
yet an occasional trespass of this kind far from counterbalances 
the advantages it confers as a consistent destroyer of vermin. 

The Kestrel appears to be generally distributed over the country, 
showing no marked predilection for upland or lowland, heath or 
marsh. It is very frequently seen near the sea-coast, to which in 
winter it habitually resorts, finding there, no doubt, greater facilities 
for obtaining food. Like others of its tribe, it possesses little archi- 
tectural skill, placing its nest in a hole in a cliff, in ruins, or on lofty 
trees, often appropriating the deserted dwelling of some more indus- 
trious builder than itself. On the Continent it resorts to buildings 
in towns and cities, as, for instance, the Louvre in Paris, and the 
towers of cathedrals. During summer it hawks principally in 
the gardens and orchards near the town, and when harvest is gathered 
in, repairs to the corn-fields to hunt for mice among the stubble. 
When taken young from the nest, it is easily tamed, and becomes 
one of the most amusing of pets. Even after being fully fledged 
and allowed its liberty, it will remain in the neighbourhood of the 
place where it was reared, coming regularly to be fed, and recogniz- 
ing the presence of its master by repeating its wild note, klee, klee, 
klee, and flying to meet him. An anecdote is recorded in the Zoo- 
logist of a male Kestrel having, in the second year of his domestica- 
tion, induced a female bird to join him in his half -civilized life, and 
to assist him in rearing a joint family. ' Billy ' still continued to 
make himself quite at home at the house where he was brought up, 
coming fearlessly into the nursery and making friends with the 
children ; but his mate never threw off her wild nature so far as to 
do this, contenting herself with waiting outside, and asserting her 
right to her fair share of whatever food he brought out. Tame 
Kestrels have been observed to have the habit of hiding their food 
when supplied with more than they can consume at the time. 
I have often noticed, too, in the case of tame Kestrels, that the 
Chaffinches and other small birds which frequent gardens show no 
instinctive dread of them, as if they were their natural enemies, 
but perch on the same tree with them, fearless and unnoticed. 

The Kestrel was formerly trained to hunt small birds, and in 
the court of Louis XIII was taught to hawk for Bats. 



THE COMMON CORMORANT 165 

ORDER STEGANOPODES 

FAMILY PELECANID^ 
Feet entirely webbed, or all four toes connected by webs. 

THE COMMON CORMORANT 
phalacr6corax carbo 

Tail of fourteen feathers. Winter — head, neck, and all the under parts, 
black, with green reflections ; close to the base of the bill a broad white 
gorget ; on the neck a few faint whitish hues ; feathers of the back and 
wings bronze-colour bordered with black ; primaries and tail black ; 
beak dusky ; orbits greenish yellow ; irides green ; feet black. Summer 
— feathers of the head elongated, forming a crest ; on the head and neck 
numerous long silky white feathers ; on the thighs a patch of pure white. 
Young birds brown and grey, the gorget greyish white. Length three 
feet. Eggs greenish white, chalky. 

Phalacrocorax, the modern systematic name of the genus Cor- 
morant, is given by Willughby as a synonym of the Coot, and with 
much propriety, for translated into P^nghsh it means ' Bald Crow '. 
Applied to the Cormorant, it must be considered as descriptive of 
the semblance of baldness produced by the white feathers of the 
head during the breeding season. The Cormorant WLUughby 
describes under the name of Corvus aquaticus, or Water Raven. 
The English name, ' Corvorant ', is clearly Corvus vorans, a voracious 
Raven ; and ' Cormorant ' perhaps a corruption of Corvus marinus, 
Sea Raven. 

Seaside visitors are pretty sure of seeing more than one specimen 
of this bird, if they care to look for them, for the Cormorant fre- 
quents all parts of the coast as well as lakes and rivers, and does 
not leave us at any period of the year. Often we may see two or 
three of these birds flying along together at a slight distance above 
the surface of the sea, distinguished by their black hue, long out- 
stretched neck, and rapid waving of the wings. They fly swiftly 
in a straight line, and seem to be kept from dipping into the water 
by making ahead at full speed. There is no buoyancy in their flight, 
no floating in the air, or soaring ; their sole motive for using their 
narrow but muscular wings is clearly that they may repair to or 
from some favourite spot with greater speed than they can attain 
by swimming or diving. Occasionally, while engaged in a boating 
expedition, we may encounter a party of three or four occupied 
in fishing. They are shy, and will not allow a near approach, but 
even at a distance they may be distinguished by their large size, 
sooty hue, long necks, and hooked beaks. They sit low in the water, 
often dipping their heads below the surface, and in this posture 
advancing, in order that their search for food may not be impeded 



i66 THE COMMON CORMORANT 

by the rii)ple of the water. A sheltered bay in which shoals of 
small fisb abound is a choice resort, and here they make no long con 
tinuous stay in the swimming attitude, but suddenly and frequently 
dive, remaining below a longer or shorter time, according to the 
depth which they have to descend in order to secure their prey, but 
when successful, occupying but a very brief space of time in swallow- 
ing it. Not unfrequently they may be discerned from the shore 
similarly occupied, floating or diving in the midst of the very 
breakers. Sometimes, but rarely, one settles on a rail or stump of a 
tree close to the water in a tidal river. The capture of fish is stni 
its object, and it is quite as expert in securing its prey from such a 
station as when roving at large on the open sea. 

All along our coast there is at various intervals a rock popularly 
distinguished in the neighbourhood by the name of ' Shag rock '. 
Such a rock is generally low, isolated, and situated at a safe distance 
from land ; or, if near the shore, is close to the base of a steep cliff. 
Hither the Cormorants, when their hunger is appeased, repair for 
the threefold purpose of resting, digesting their food, and drying 
their wings. The process of digestion is soon completed, but 
the time consumed in drying their thoroughly drenched wings 
depends on the amount of sunshine and air moving. Of these, 
whatever they may be, they know how to avail themselves to per- 
fection. They station themselves on the highest ridge of the rock, 
wide apart, and in a row, so as not to screen one another, raise their 
bodies to their full height, and spread their wings to their utmost 
extent. No laundress is more cunning in the exercise of her voca- 
tion. Indeed, they can hardly fail to recall the idea of so many 
pairs of black trousers hung out to be aired. 

Cormorants do not confine their fishing expeditions to the sea, 
but frequently ascend tidal rivers, and follow the course of streams 
which communicate with fish-ponds and lakes, where they commit 
great havoc ; for the quantity of fish which they devour at a meal 
is very great. Pliny has observed that the Cormorant sometimes 
perches on trees ; and the truth of this remark has been confirmed 
by many subsequent writers. They have been even known to 
buUd their nest in a tree, but this is a rare occurrence.^ They 
generally select exposed rocks, where they collect a large quantity 
of sticks and rubbish, and lay three or four eggs in a depression on 
the summit. 

Most people are familiar with a representation of a fishery with 
the help of Cormorants conducted by the Chinese ; but it is not so 
generally known that a similar method once was practised in Eng- 
land. Willughby quoting Faber's Annotations on the Animals of 
Recchus, says ; ' It is the custom in England to train Cormorants 

1 A pair hatched two young m the Zoological Gardens in Regent's Park 
in i833. 





'Jjf^'^ 



Shag ^ 
Bernacle Goose J 



Brent Goose 5 
Cormorant $ ^^^^^ ^_ ,gg 




^ 



v^ 



\\ 





Whooper Swan 



Gannet 2 



Bewick's Swan ^ 



THE SHAG 167 

to catch fish. While conveying the birds to the fishing-ground 
the fishermen keep the heads and eyes of the birds covered to pre- 
vent them from being alarmed. When they have reached the rivers, 
they take off the hoods, and having first tied a leather strap loosely 
round the lower part of the neck, that the birds may be unable to 
swallow down what fishes they catch, throw them into the water. 
They immediately set to work and pursue the fish beneath them 
with marvellous rapidity. When they have caught one they 
rise to the surface, and, having first pinched it with their beaks, 
swallow it as far as the strap permits, and renew the chase until they 
have caught from five to six each. On being called to return to 
their masters' fist, they obey with alacrity, and bring up, one by 
one, the fish they have swallowed, injured no farther than that 
they are slightly crushed. The fishing being brought to an end, 
the birds are removed from the neighbourhood of the water, the 
strap is untied, and a few of the captured fish, thrown to them as 
their share of the booty, are dexterously caught before they touch 
the ground.' 



THE SHAG 
phalacr6corax grAculus 

Fail graduated, of twelve feathers. In winter, general plumage deep greenish 
black ; feathers of the back glossy with black borders ; orbits and pouch 
greenish yellow ; bill dusky ; irides green ; feet black. In summer, head 
crested. Young birds greenish brown above ; light grey below. Length 
twenty-eight inches. Eggs greenish blue, chalky. 

Except in the smaller size and differences of plumage mentioned 
above, there is little to distinguish the Shag from the Cormorant. 
Both, too, are of common occurrence, and frequent the same 
localities ; except that the Shag is more disposed to be gregarious : it 
does not, however, commonly resort to tidal rivers, and is still more 
rarely found on inland lakes ; its food and method of obtaining it are 
precisely similar, so that a description of one bird will suit the other 
almost equally well. The Shag is called sometimes the Green 
Cormorant, from the tint of its plumage ; but this name is not in 
common use. Another of its names is the Crested Cormorant ; 
but this is vague, inasmuch as both species are crested in spring. 
In Scotland a common name for it is Scart, applied also to the Great 
Cormorant. 



l6t THE GANNET 

THE GANNET 

SULA BASSANA 

Crown buff-yellow ; general plumage milk-white ; quills black ; bill bluish 
grey at the base, white at the tip ; orbits pale blue ; membrane prolonged 
from the gape and that under the throat dusky blue ; irides yellow ; 
feet striped with green, the membranes dusky ; claws white. Birds of 
the first year, gmeral plumage dusky brown, beneath greyish. In the 
second year, greyish black above, marked with numerous triangular 
white spots, whitish below. Length three feet. Eggs dull greenish 
white. 

It would not be diiRcult to compile, from various sources, a descrip- 
tion of the Gannet and its habits which would fiU more pages than 
my readers, perhaps, would care to peruse. To avoid this contin- 
gency, I will limit myself to a statement of my own personal acquaint- 
ance with the bird and its ways, and a transcript of notes kindly 
furnished me by a friend who visited the Bass Rock, one of its 
favourite haunts in the breeding season. 

Extract from my own Journal. — ' August 27th. I lay for a long 
time to-day on the thick herbage which crowns the splendid cliffs, 
" the Gobbins", near the entrance of Belfast Lough, watching through 
a telescope the proceedings of some Gannets, or Solan Geese. This 
bird, which is allied to the Pelicans rather than the Geese, is of a 
large size, much bigger than a Gull, from which, also, it may be 
distinguished at a distance by its greater length of neck, the intense 
whiteness of its plumage, and the black tip of its wide-spreading 
wings. But apart from all these distinguishing characters, its mode 
of fishing is, by itself, sufficient to mark it. In flight it is eminently 
wandering ; it circles round and round, or describes a figure of 
eight, at a varying elevation above the water, in quest of herrings, 
pilchards, or other fish whose habit is to swim near the surface. 
When it has discovered a prey, it suddenly arrests its flight, partially 
closes its wings, and descends head foremost with a force sufficient 
to make a jet d'eau visible two or three miles off, and to carry itself 
many feet downwards. When successful, it brings its prize to the 
surface, and devours it without troubling itself about mastication. 
If unsuccessful, it rises immediately, and resumes its hunting. It 
is sometimes seen swimming, perhaps to rest itself, for I did not 
observe that it ever dived on these occasions. My companion told 
me that the fishermen on the coast of Ireland say that, if chased 
by a boat when seen swimming, it becomes so terrified as to be un- 
able to rise. The real reason may be that it is gorged with food. 
He was once in a boat on the Lough, when, a Gannet being seen a 
long way ahead, it was determined to give chase, and ascertain 
whether the statement was correct. As the boat drew near, the 
Gannet endeavoured to escape by swimming ; but made no attempt 
either to dive or to use its wings. After a pretty long chase, the 



THE GANNET 169 

bowman secured it in spite of a very severe bite which it inflicted 
on his hand, and carried it home in triumph. It did not appear 
to have received any injury, and when released, in the evening 
of the same day, swam out to sea with great composure. A fisher- 
man in Islay told me that in some parts of Scotland a singular 
method of catching Gannets is adopted. A herring is fastened to 
a board and sunk a few feet deep in the sea. The sharp eye of the 
Gannet detects the fish, and the bird, first raising itself to an eleva- 
tion which experience or instinct has taught it to be sufficient to 
carry it down to the requisite depth, pounces on the fish, and in the 
effort penetrates the board to which the fish is attached. Being 
thus held fast by the beak, and unable to extricate itself, it is 
drowned. Gannets are frequently caught in the herring-nets, at 
various depths below the surface. Diving after the fish, they be- 
come entangled in the nets, and are thus captured in a trap not 
intended for them. They perform good service to fishermen, by 
indicating at a great distance the exact position of the shoals of 
fish.' 

Gannets breed in great numbers on several parts of our rocky 
coast ; from the extreme north to Lundy Island in the Bristol 
Channel. The two most important stations are St. KUda and the 
Bass Rock, in the Firth of Forth. On this rock stand the ruins of 
the once formidable stronghold of the Douglas family, the Castle 
of Tantallan. In circumference the island is about a mile ; on the 
northern side it rises to an elevation of eight hundred feet, whilst 
towards the south it shelves almost down to the sea. The isolated 
position of this rock, and the difficulty of landing on it, have rendered 
it a fit retreat for sea-fowl of various kinds ; and as the proprietor 
' preserves ' them, they flourish without sensible diminution. The 
discharge of a gun causes the whole of the colony to take wing ; 
and as they rise into the air, the eye of the spectator is dazzled by 
the mazy intercrossings of white wings, the ear bewildered by the 
discord of confused screamings. A visit paid at sunrise, when 
flocks of various kinds are wheeling about in all directions, wUl 
more than reward the early riser for his activity, for Scotland scarcely 
offers a more interesting sight. Of all the numerous birds which 
frequent the rock, the Solan Goose is the most abundant and most 
profitable, as almost the only revenue of the island accrues from 
the sale of these birds to the country people of the mainland, 
and at the Edinburgh market, where they have fetched, for the last 
century and a half, the unvarying price of two shillings and four- 
pence a head. The size of the Gannet is somewhat larger than 
that of the domestic Goose. 

' The only parts of the island where they can be approached are 
on the south and west sides. They sit lazily and stupidly on and 
about their nests, which are composed of a mass of weeds and grass, 
and will suffer themselves to be stroked, patted, or knocked on the 



I70 THE COMMON HERON 

head, as the case may be, with a most philosophical gravity. They 
are frequently shot ; but as they then generally fall into the sea, 
a boat has to be on the alert, or they are soon washed away. The 
plan of lowering a man by means of a rope held by the others, is 
also adopted ; but this is most dangerous. The Frigate Pelican 
[The Skua ?] often chases a successful Gannet till the terrified bird 
disgorges its prey, which the pursuer seizes before it reaches the 
water.' 

' A Solan Goose to most people would not afford a delicious meal, 
being a rank, coarse, fishy dish ; but many of the poorer classes 
eat them with a relish — nay, as a delicacy — and during the winter 
would fare ill had they not these birds for food." 

The Gannet lays but one egg ; and the young bird is nourished 
on semi-liquid food disgorged by the parent. On its first exclusion 
from the egg its skin is naked, and of a bluish black hue, but is 
soon covered with a white down. Through this the true feathers 
appear, which are black, the adult plumage being pure white. 

For an interesting account of the capture of these birds at St. 
Kilda, the reader is referred to Professor James Wilson's Voyage 
round the Coast of Scotland. From a calculation once made of 
the number of Gannets consumed by each family in a year, on this 
island, it appeared that the total secured, not taking into account 
a large number which could not be reached for various reasons, 
was 22,600 : and this number was considered to be below the 
average, the season being a bad one. 



ORDER HERODIONES 

FAMILY ARDEID.^ 

THE COMMON HERON 

Ardea cinerea 

A crest of elongated bluish black feathers at the back of the head ; similar 
feathers of a lustrous white hanging from the lower part of the neck ; 
scapulars similar, silver grey ; forehead, neck, middle of the belly, edge 
of the wings, and thighs, pure white ; back of the head, sides of the 
breast, and flanks, deep black ; front of the neck streaked with grey ; 
upper plumage bluish grey ; beak deep yellow ; irides yellow ; orbits 
naked, livid ; feet brown, red above ; middle toe, claw included, much 
shorter than the tarsus. In young birds the long feathers are absent 3 
head and neck ash-coloured ; upper plumage tinged with brown ; lower, 
spotted with black. Length three feet two inches. Eggs uniform sea 
green. 

The Heron, though a large bird, measuring three feet in length 
from the point of the beak to the extremity of the tail, and foui 
feet and a half in breadth from the tip of one wing to the other. 



THE COMMON HERON lyi 

weighs but three pounds and a half. Consequently, though not 
formed for rapid flight, or endued with great activity of wing, its 
body presents so large a surface to the air, that it can support itself 
aloft with but a slight exertion. It is thus enabled, without fatigue, 
to soar almost into the regions assigned to the Eagle and Vulture ; 
and when pursued by its natural enemies, the Falcons, to whom 
it would fall an easy prey on account of the largeness of the mark 
which its body would present to their downward swoop if it could 
only skim the plains, it is enabled to vie with them in rising into 
the air, and thus often eludes them. 

The Heron, though it neither swims nor dives, is, nevertheless, 
a fisher, and a successful one, but a fisher in rivers and shallow 
waters only, to human anglers a very pattern of patience and 
resignation. Up to its knees in water, motionless as a stone, 
with the neck slightly stretched out, and the eye steadily fixed, 
but wide awake to the motion of anything that has life, the Heron 
may be seen in the ford of a river, the margin of a lake, in a sea- 
side pool, or on the bank of an estuary, a faultless subject for the 
photographer. Suddenly the head is shot forward with unerring 
aim ; a small fish is captured, crushed to death, and swallowed 
head foremost ; an eel of some size requires different treatment, 
and is worth the trouble of bringing to land, that it may be beaten 
to death on the shingle ; a large fish is impaled with its dagger- 
like beak, and, if worth the labour, is carried off to a safe retreat, 
to be devoured at leisure. If observers are to be credited, and 
there is no reason why they should not, a full-grown Heron can 
thus dispose of a fish that exceeds its own weight. A frog is swal- 
lowed whole ; a water rat has its skull split before it discovers its 
enemy, and speedily is undergoing the process of digestion. Shrimps, 
small crabs, newts, water beetles, all is fish that comes to its com- 
prehensive net ; but if, with all its watchfulness, the look-out be 
unsuccessful, it rises a few feet into the air, and slowly flaps itself 
away to some little distance, where perhaps, slightly altering its 
attitude, it stands on one leg, and, with its head thrown back, 
awaits better fortune. While thus stationed it is mute ; but as 
it flies off it frequently utters its note, a harsh, grating scream, 
especially when other birds of the same species are in the neigh- 
bourhood. On these occasions it is keenly on the alert, descrying 
danger at a great distance, and is always the first to give notice 
of an approaching enemy, not only to all birds feeding near it on 
the shore, but to any Ducks which may chance to be paddling in 
the water. ^ 

* A Heron in captivity has been known to perch on an old carriage-wheel, 
in the corner of a courtyard, and to lie in wait for Sparrows and Martins. 
One of the latter it was seen to pierce while flying, and immediately descend- 
ing with outspread wings to run to its trough, and, having several times 
plunged in its prey, to swallow it at a gulp. 



171 THE COMMON HERON 

During a great ix)rtion of the year the Heron is a wanderer. 1 
have frequently seen it at least fifty miles distant from the nearest 
heronry ; but when it has discovered a spot abounding in food, 
it repairs thither day after day for a long period. 

In the month of January, if mild, but as a rule in February, 
Herons show a disposition to congregate, and soon after repair to 
their old-established breeding-places, called Heronries. These are 
generally lofty trees, firs or deciduous trees in parks, or even in 
groves close by old family mansions. One at Kilmorey, by Loch 
Gilphead, has long been frequented, though within a hundred 
yards of the house. The nests, huge masses of sticks, a yard 
across, lined with a little grass, and other soft materials, are placed 
near each other, as many, sometimes, as a hundred in a colony,^ or, 
more rarely, they are placed among ivy-clad rocks, ruins, or even 
on the ground. Each nest contains three to four eggs, on which 
the female sits about three weeks, constantly fed by her partner 
during the whole period of incubation. Two weeks later a second 
clutch of eggs is sometimes laid and hatched off whilst the first 
young are in the nest. The power of running would be of little 
use to a young bird hatched at an elevation of fifty feet from the 
ground ; the young Herons are consequently helpess till they are 
sufficiently fledged to perch on the branches of the trees, where 
they are fed by their parents, who themselves perch with the 
facility of the Rook. Indeed, the favourite position of these birds, 
both old and young, is, during a considerable portion of the day, 
on the upper branches of a lofty tree, whither, also, they often 
repair with a booty too large to be swallowed at once. 

By a statute of Henry VIII the taking of Herons in any other 
way than by hawking, or the long bow, was prohibited on a penalty 
of half a mark ; and the theft of a young bird from the nest was 
visited with a penalty of ten shillings. 

Not to be acquainted with the noble art of Falconry was deemed 
degrading : so that the saying, ' He does not know a Hawk from a 
Heronshaw ', was a common expression of contempt, now corrupted 
into the proverb, ' He does not know a Hawk from a handsaw ', 

• Pennant counted eighty in one tree. 



THE COMMON BITTERN X73 

THE NIGHT HERON 

NYCTfCORAX GRISEUS; 

Head, back, and scapulars, black, with blue and green reflections ; on the 
back of the head three very long narrow white feathers ; lower part of 
the back, wings, and tail, pearl-grey ; forehead, streak over the eyes, and 
all the lower parts, white ; beak black, yellow at the base ; irides red ; 
feet yellowish green. Young birds have no crest ; the upper plumage 
is dull brown streaked with yellow ; wing-coverts and primaries marked 
with fish-shaped streaks, which are yellowish ; under parts dull white, 
mottled with brown and ash ; bill greenish ; irides and feet brown. 
Length twenty-one inches. Eggs pale blue. 

The Night Heron is a bird of wide geographical range ; but, on 
account of its nocturnal habits and the rarity of its occurrence 
in this country, it has been little observed. It is, however, not 
uncommon on migration. A specimen was brought to me at 
Helston, Cornwall, about the year 1836, which had been shot in 
the dusk of the evening, on Goonhilly Downs. Its long and delicate 
crest had been stupidly tied into a knot, and by the bruised con- 
dition of these feathers the specimen, if it still exists in any museum, 
may yet be identified. 

The Night Heron is said to be not uncommon on the shores of 
the Baltic, in the wide marshes of Bretagne and Lorraine, and on 
the banks of the Rhone. It passes the day concealed among the 
thick foliage of trees and shrubs, and feeds only by night. It builds 
its nest in trees, and lays four or five eggs. 



THE COMMON BITTERN 

BOTAURUS STELLArIS 

Moustaches and crown black ; upper plumage yellowish rust-red, spotted 
with dusky ; the feathers of the neck elongated, marked with brown zigzag 
lines ; primaries barred with rust-red and dusky grey ; plumage beneath 
paler, marked with oblong dusky streaks ; upper mandible brown, edged 
with yellow ; lower, orbits, and feet, greenish yellow ; irides bright 
yellow. Length two feet four inches. Eggs dingy green. 

Macgillivray, who was as well acquainted as most ornithologists 
with birds haunting moors and swamps, admits that he never 
heard one, and thinks that a brother naturalist, who describes what, 
no doubt, he heaid, mistook for the booming of the Bittern the 
drumming of a Snipe. Lord Lilford tells us that a lady of his 
acquaintance told him that as a young wife, living near marshes, 
she often was kept awake by the booming of Bitterns, 



174 THE COMMON BITTERN 

In Sir Thomas Browne's time, It was common in Norfolk, and was 
esteemed a better dish than the Heron. 

Willughby, who wrote about the same time, 1676, says : 
' The Bittern, or Mire-drum, it is said, makes either three or five 
boomings at a time — always an uneven number. It begins to 
bellow early in February, and continues during the breeding season. 
The common people believe that it thrusts its beak into a reed, 
and by the help of this makes its booming. Others maintain 
that it imitates the lowing of an ox by thrusting its beak into 
water, mud, or earth. They conceal themselves among rushes 
and reeds, and no\ unfrequently in hedges, with the head and 
neck erect. In autumn, after sunset, they are in the habit of 
rising into the air with a spiral ascent, so high that they are lost 
sight of. Meanwhile they utter a singular note, but not at aU 
resembling the characteristic ' booming '. 

It is called Botaunis, because it imitates hoatum tauri, the bellow- 
ing of a bull. Of ' Botaurus ', the names ' Bitour ' and Bittern 
are evident corruptions ; and the following names, in different 
languages, are all descriptive of the same peculiar note : Butor, 
Rordump, Myredromble, Trombone, Rohrtrummel, Rohrdommel, 
and Rordrum. 

Of late years, so unusual has the occurrence become of Bitterns 
breeding in this country, owing to collectors, that the discovery 
of an egg in Norfolk has been thought worthy of being recorded 
in the transactions of the Linnean Society ; and even the appearance 
of a bird at any season finds its way into the provincial newspapers 
or the magazines devoted to natural history; Stuffed specimens 
are, however, to be seen in most collections, where its form and 
plvmiage may be studied, though its habits can only be learnt, at 
least in England, from the accounts furnished by naturalists of a 
past generation. It comes now only to be shot. 

The Bittern is a bird of wide geographical range, as it resorts, 
more or less, to aU countries of Europe and Asia. Specimens 
are said to differ much in size, some being as large as the Heron, 
others considerably less ; but there is no reason to suppose that 
they are of different species, a similar variation having been 
observed in other birds, as in the Curlew, for example, of which I 
have had in my possession at once four or five specimens all of 
different dimensions. 

The Bittern builds its nest on the ground, and lays four brown 
^gs, which are tinged with ash or green. The old bird, if wounded, 
defends itself in the same way as the Heron. 



THE BLACK STORK 175 

FAMILY CICONIIDiE 

THE WHITE STORK 

cic6nia alba 

General plumage white ; scapulars and wings black ; bill and feet red ; orbits 
naked, black ; irides brown. Young birds have the wings tinged with 
brown and the beak reddish black. Length three feet six inches. Eggs 
white tinged with ochre. 

Sir Thomas Browne says, in his Account of Birds found in Norfolk .* 
' The Ciconia, or Stork, I have seen in the fens ; and some have 
been shot in the marshes between this [Norwich] and Yarmouth.' 
His contemporary, Willughby, says : — ' The Stork is rarely seen in 
England ; never, in fact, but when driven hither by the wind or 
some accident. I have received from Dr. Thomas Browne, the 
eminent naturalist, a figure drawn to the life, and a short descrip- 
tion of one which was captured in Norfolk.' Yarrell records 
instances of a few others which have been killed, at distant inter- 
vals, in various parts of England ; but the Stork is so rare a visitor 
with us, that I have no scruple in referring my readers, for a full 
account of the habits of so interesting a bird, to some more com- 
prehensive work on the subject. The White Stork was, over 350 
years ago, only an irregular visitor to Great Britain. 



THE BLACK STORK 

cic6nia nigra 

Upper plumage black, with green and purple reflections ; under white ; bill 
and orbits red ; irides brown ; feet deep red. In young birds the bill, 
orbits, and feet, are olive green ; and the upper plumage is tinged with 
rust-brown. Length nearly three feet. Eggs dull white, tinged with 
green, and sometimes sparingly spotted with brown. 

A STILL rarer visitor in Great Britain than the White Stork, from 
which it differs quite as much in habit as it does in colour ; for 
whereas the one is eminently sociable with birds of its own kind, and 
devoted in its attachment to human dwellings, the other is a solitary 
bird, shy and wary, avoiding at all times the sight of men and 
their habitations. It is a rare bird in most countries of Europe, 
but is common in several parts of Asia and the whole of the known 
regions of Africa. It builds a large nest in a lofty tree, and lays 
from two to five eggs. 



I7« THE GREY LAG GOOSB 

FAMILY PLATALEID.^ 
THE SPOONBILL 

PLATAL^A LEUCORODIA 

General plumage white ; a large patch of reddish yellow on the breast ; a crest 
of long narrow white feathers pendent over the neck ; lore, orbits, and 
naked space on the neck, pale yellow ; bill black, tipped with yellow ; 
irides red ; feet black. Young birds want the yellow patch on the breast 
and the occipital crest ; portions of the wing black. Length thirty-one 
inches. Eggs white, spotted with light red. 

Spoonbills do not appear to have been common at any time ; 
for though Sir Thomas Browne enumerates them among the birds of 
Norfolk and Suflolk, where they build in heronries, his contem- 
porary, Willughby, knew them only as natives of HoUand. This 
bird is not unfrequent in East Anglia, and it is met with now and 
again along the south coast, and has wandered up the Thames 
valley. 

The Spoonbill is a migratory bird, building its nest and rearing 
its young in the north of Europe and Asia, and retiring in autumn to 
the shores of the Mediterranean or to Africa. It is remarkable not 
only for the singular conformation of its bill, but for * being one 
of the very few which have been found to possess no true muscles 
of the organ of voice ; and no modulation of a single tone appears to 
be possessed by the bird.' ^ 

It builds its nest in high trees, or, when these are wanting, among 
reeds and rushes ; and lays four eggs. 



ORDER ANSERES 

FAMILY ANATIDiE 

THE GREY LAG GOOSE 

ANSER CINEREUS 

Folded wings not reaching to the extremity of the tail ; bill strong, orange- 
yellow, the nail whitish ; upper plumage ash-brown, many of the 
feathers bordered with greyish white ; under plumage, in front, light ash- 
grey, barred on the flanks and belly with brown, behind pure white ; 
irides deep brown ; legs dull flesh-colour. Eggs ivory white. Length 
two feet ten inches. 

The Geese characterized by having a large, ovate body, a long 
neck, a short and stout beak, high at the base and bent down at 

» Yarrell's British Birds, 



THE WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE 177 

the tip, adapted for cropping vegetable food ; the wings are large 
and powerful ; the legs, placed under the centre of the body, 
afford some facility in walking, and the webbed feet are eminently 
fitted for paddling, but rarely employed in diving. They spend 
the greater portion of the year in high latitudes, where their arrival 
is celebrated with great rejoicings, as an indication of returning 
summer. They are eminently gregarious, flying generally in the 
form of a half-opened pair of compasses, with the angle in front, 
or in an irregular wavy line, and uttering a loud harsh cry, which 
may often be heard some time before the birds themselves are in 
sight. 

The present species, which is supposed by some to be the origin 
of the domestic Goose, was formerly of common occurrence in 
Great Britain, but is now much less frequent. It breeds in northern 
Scotland, coming south from autumn to spring. On their arrival 
in autumn, they resort to marshes and swamps, meadows, corn- 
fields, and turnip-fields, especially such as are remote from human 
dwellings. There they feed by day on such vegetable substances 
as fall in their way, but they are said to prefer the young shoots of 
com to any other kind of food. So wary are they and difficult 
of approach, that a * Wild Goose chase ' is a proverbial expression 
for an unsuccessful enterprise. At night they retire to the broad 
flats near the sea, or to the mouths of rivers, where they roost on 
the ground. Yarrell is of opinion^ that the term " lag'*, as applied 
to this Goose, is either a modification of the English word "lake", 
the Latin lacus, or perhaps an abbreviation of the Italian " lago", 
from which latter country it is even probable that we may originally 
have obtained this our domesticated race.' 



THE WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE 

ANSER ALBIFRONS 

Folded wings reaching a little beyond the tail ; bill orange-yellow, the nail 
white ; a large space on the forehead pure white, surrounded by a dusky 
band ; upper plumage ash-brown, varied with grey, dull white, and bluish 
black ; under plumage in front brownish white, with patches and bars 
of black ; behind white ; irides dark brown ; feet orange. Length two 
feet three inches. Eggs white, tinged with buff. 

A REGULAR visitor to the British Isles, coming late in the autumn 
to stay tin spring, usually seen in small flocks of from eight to twenty 
birds ; it is entirely graminivorous, and, when imdisturbed, usually 
rests at night in any grass-field where it may have been feeding 
in the afternoon. 

Its habits, during its stay in these latitudes, are similiar to those of 
B3. H 



178 THE BEAN GOOSE 

the other species, but It is said by Mr. Selby to ' vary from the Bean 
Goose in preferring low and marshy districts to the upland and 
drier haunts of that bird, and in these localities subsists on the 
aquatic grasses, being very seldom seen to frequent com or stubble 
fields '. In Norfolk it has frequently been seen associated with the 
Bean Goose. It has never been observed to remain with us after 
April, when it betakes itself to the regions bordering on the Arctic 
circle. In Lapland it is very abundant, and in the fur countries 
of North America it was seen in spring by Dr. Richardson in large 
flocks travelling northwards. It breeds in the woody districts 
skirting Mackenzie's River, and in the islands of the Arctic Sea. 

The white forehead of this bird tends to confirm the opinion 
maintained by some authors that the common Domestic Goose owes 
its origin to this species. 



THE BEAN GOOSE 

ANSER S^GETUM 

Folded wings exceeding the tail in length ; bill long, orange, the base and nail 
black ; upper plumage ash-brown ; the wings darker, edged with 
greyish white ; under plumage in front dirty white, behind pure white ; 
irides dark brown ; legs orange ; beak yellowish white. Length thirty- 
four inches. Eggs white. 

The several species constituting the group to which the Bean 
Goose belongs resemble each other very nearly in all respects. All 
are gregarious, fly high in the form of a V, or in an undulating line, 
uttering repeated cries, which no one who has heard a domesticated 
Goose can fail to recognize ; they pass the night for the most part 
on broad flats near the sea, and at early dawn repair inland to theii 
feeding-grounds. The Bean Goose is, on the authority of Yarrell, 
next to the Brent Goose, the commonest and most numerous as a 
species among our Wild Geese. In Scotland it is far more abundant 
than in England, being seen in large flocks from October to April, 
especially at the periods of migration to and from its summer 
quarters. But it does not altogether desert the British Isles during 
the intervening months. A few are said annually to remain, and 
breed in the lakes of Westmoreland, and in the Hebrides. In 
Sutherlandshire, also, many remain all the year — a fact thoroughly 
ascertained by Mr. Selby, who gives an interesting account of several 
young broods which he saw on the lochs, some of which he captured. 
They construct their nests among the tussocks of sedge or grass 
hillocks on the islands, and lay from three to four eggs, smaller than 
those of the Common Goose, but of a shnilar shape and colour. 




'^-^^*»r-^ 





Pinkfooted Goose 



Bean Goose S 



White Fronted Goose 
Grey Lag Goose 






■'«wi 'w' 



Sheldrake ^ 



Gadwall ^ 



Shoveler 3' 
Wild Duck<? ? 



THE PINK- FOOTED GOOSE 179 

THE PINK-FOOTED GOOSE 

ANSER BRACHYRHYNCHUS 

Folded wings not reaching to tlie extremity of the tail ; bill shorter than 
the head, narrow and much contracted towards the tip, pink, with the 
nail and base black ; head and neck reddish brown ; rest of the upper 
plumage ash-grey, edged with greyish white ; under plumage in front 
fawn-colour, behind white ; irides dark brown ; feet pink, tinged with 
vermilion. Length two feet four inches. Eggs dull yellowish white. 

It is said that most, if not all the various species of wild Geese 
have strong local attachments ; that flocks composed of one particu- 
lar kind are in the habit of visiting, year after year, the same 
spot, to the exclusion of other species, which may, nevertheless, 
be found frequenting places of like character at no great distance. 
Of the truth of the statement I met with signal confirmation 
in the severe winter of 1860-1. I then spent several days on 
the coast of Norfolk, for the purpose of watching the habits 
of Waders and sea-fowl. Without indulging in the chase of wild 
Geese, I heard and saw a great many flocks, of which some were 
unmistakably Brent Geese ; others, of a larger size and a different 
colourj was obliged to include under the comprehensive name of Grey 
Geese. The Brents, I found, regularly repaired to the salt marshes 
adjoining Thornham Harbour, which, I was told, was their usual 
place of resort. The others were known to alight only in the meadows 
near Holkham. Having heard that several had been shot at the 
latter place, I procured one, and on examination it proved to be the 
present species, up to that time entirely unknown to me. On 
consulting Yarrell, I found the following passage : — ' In January 
of the present year, 1841, I was favoured with a letter from the 
Hon. and Rev. Thomas Keppel, of Warham Rectory, near Holkam, 
informing me that a Pink-footed Goose had been killed by his 
nephew, Lord Coke, at Holkam. This bird was shot out of a flock 
of about twenty, but nothing particular was observed in their 
flight or habits.' The bird brought to me had been shot, along with 
many others, out of similar flocks, in exactly the same place, at 
an interval of twenty years ; and I have no doubt that the many 
other specimens which have been shot there between the above 
two dates, belonged to the same species, the characters which dis- 
tinguish it from the common Bean Goose being not sufficiently 
striking to attract the notice of seaside gunners. The habits of 
the species appear not to differ from those of its congener ; it arrives 
and departs about the same time, and it frequents the marshes 
and uplands of Norfolk, and in winter the east coa^t of Scotland. 



i8o THE BRENT GOOSE 

THE BRENT GOOSE 

BERNICLA BRENTA 

Head, beak, neck, breast, feet, quills, and tail, black ; on each side of the 
neck a patch of white with a few black feathers intermixed ; upper 
plumage dingy ; all the tail-covcrts white ; belly brownish grey, barred 
on the flanks with greyish white. Length twenty-two to twenty-three 
inches. Eggs greyish white. 

The Wild Geese which we have hitherto been considering feed on 
grass, clover, and grain, in quest of which they resort to inland 
marshes, meadows, and arable land ; but the Brent is a decidedly 
marine bird. During its annual visits to our shores it stays out 
at sea by night, cradled by the billows, and at early dawn repairs 
to the muddy flats and sand-banks, where it feeds exclusively on 
marine plants, especially laver and zostera. As soon as these are 
left bare by the ebbing tide, the Brents are taught by their instinct 
that they have no time to lose, and hasten in ' skeins ' or ' gaggles " 
making in their flight a trumpet-like noise, which, heard at a distance, 
resembles that of a pack of harriers or fox-hounds in full cry. They 
prefer to take their stand on those parts of the ooze which are 
least intersected by creeks, and there, if left undisturbed, they 
continue to feed without intermission till the rising tide lifts them 
ofi their feet. Then, away to sea again ! or, if the weather be boister- 
ous, they seek for shelter in the rivers and estuaries. They are 
local in their attachments, returning annually to the same feeding- 
grounds. They do not associate from choice with other species, 
for though they may be frequently seen feeding in the vicinity of 
various Waders, they form no society with them, and are, indeed, 
in quest of different food. Seaside fowlers are well acquainted 
with the peculiarity of their habits, and not only know where to 
look for them when they are settled, but at what points they can 
most easily be intercepted, going and returning. It is the custom 
of the fowler to conceal kimself behind some lurking-place, natural 
or artificial ; or, if this be wanting, to stretch himself on the ground. 
Then, as a skein, unconscious of danger, approaches, he suddenly 
shows himself ; the birds, panic-struck, huddle together before 
they alter their line of flight, and the sportsman fires into the midst 
of them. 

They are the most abundant of all the Geese which frequent 
our shores, and are killed in great numbers and sent to market. 
They come to us in November and remain till late in February, 
when they begin to migrate in successive flights, the youngest bird 
staying until April. It is not believed that they ever remain to 
breed, but that they repair to the Arctic regions, and make their 
nests of withered herbage in marshy ground. " ^ 



THE WHOOPER SWAN l8l 

THE BERNICLE GOOSE 

BERNICLA LEUCOPSIS 

Forehead, sides of the head, and throat, pure white ; a dark streak between the 
eyes and bill ; head, neck, quills, and tail, black ; rest of the upper plumage 
undulated transversely with ash-grey, black, and dull white ; lower 
plumage white, tinged on the flanks with grey ; irides dusky-brown ; 
bill and feet black. Length two feet one inch. Eggs greenish white. 

This beautiful bird occurs chiefly on the west side of Great Britain 
in winter. ' It then more frequently retires to the sea than to 
the lakes during its periods of repose, or when driven from its feed- 
ing-grounds. A large flock then presents a beautiful spectacle, 
as the birds sit lightly on the water, and when advancing elevate 
their necks. Not less beautiful do they seem when on wing ; now 
arranged in long lines, ever undulating ; at one time extending in the 
direction of their flight ; at another obliquely, or at right angles 
to it, sometimes in an angular figure, and again mingling together. 
Their voice is clear, and rather shrill, and comes agreeably on the ear 
when the cries of a large flock come from a considerable distance '. 
In England it is far less common, but occasionally resorts to marshes 
both on the eastern and western coast. The mythical fragment of 
ancient natural history, that the Bernicle is the product of a tree, 
is too trite to require repetition here. 



THE WHOOPER SWAN 

CYGNUS MUSICUS 

Whole plumage pure white, the head and nape sometimes slightly tinged with 
yellow ; lower half of the bill quadrangular, yellow, upper black ; lore 
and a great portion of the edge of the upper mandible yellow ; irides 
brown ; legs black ; tail of twenty feathers. Young birds have the 
plumage grey ; lore flesh-colour. Length five feet ; breadth seven feet 
ten inches. Eggs dull white, tinged with greenish. 

The ancient fable that Swans sing most sweetly before their death 
did not survive the age which invented it. Pliny disbelieved 
it, and, though the assertion may have been resuscitated from 
time to time as a poetic fiction, it has found no place in works on 
natural history. 

The Swan is not musical ; it rests its claims to our admiration 
on other grounds, unchallenged and indisputable ; the unsullied 
white of its plumage is an apt emblem of purity, and the elegance 
of its movements in the water has become proverbial. The present 
species, which owes its name to its powerful voice, is said to be 
not quite so graceful as the tame Swan, but on land it is far 
more active. A bird which has been winged by a sportsman, 
and has fallen on the land, can only be overtaken by smart running. 



1 89 THE WHOOPER SWAN 

In Iceland, the summer resort of these birds, they are much sought 
after for the sake of their down. In the month of August, when the 
old birds, having cast their quill-feathers, are unable to fly, the 
natives assemble in bodies in the places where the Swans collect, 
and mounted on small but active horses chase them through the 
marshes, and ride many of them down ; but the greater number 
are caught by the dogs, which always seize the birds by the neck, 
and so encumber them that they are then easily overtaken. But 
it is not the habit of Swans to remain much on land ; the perfect 
ease with which they float and swim indicates that the water is their 
element, and a glance at their long necks tells at once that their 
nature is to feed in shallow water or on the margin of deep lakes, 
where with their strong bills they either tear up the stems and 
roots of aquatics from the bottom, or crop at their pleasure from 
the banks. To this kind of food they add such insects, molluscs 
and worms as come within their reach ; and (when sailing in salt 
water) sea-weeds, and especially the long, ribbon-like leaves of 
zost^ra. During summer they frequent the most secluded swamps 
and lakes in the wooded districts of the north, and build a very large 
nest in a spot unapproachable by human feet. A few go no farther 
north than the Orkneys and Shetlands, but their headquarters 
are Siberia, Iceland, Lapland, and Hudson's Bay. 

After they have recovered from their summer moult, they migrate 
southwards, and arrive in Scotland, sometimes in large flocks, 
early in October. Mr. St. John, in his Wild Sports of the High- 
lands, gives an interesting account of their habits while in this 
country. He went in pursuit of a flock which had selected for 
their winter feeding-place some fresh-water lochs about half a mile 
from the sea. They passed the day mostly on the salt water, and 
in the evening came inland to feed. He found them on one of the 
smaller lochs, some standing high and dry on the grassy islands 
trimming their feathers after their long voyage, and others feeding 
on the grass and weeds at the bottom of the loch, which in some 
parts was shallow enough to allow of their pulling up the plants 
which they fed on as they swam about, while numbers of wild 
Ducks of different kinds, particularly Wigeons, swarmed round 
them, and often snatched the pieces of grass from the Swans as 
soon as they had brought them to the surface, to the great annoy- 
ance of the noble birds, who endeavoured in vain to drive away 
these most active little depredators, who seemed determined to 
profit by their labours. ' I observed ', he says, ' that frequently all 
their heads were under the water at once, excepting one — but 
invariably one had kept his head and neck perfectly erect, and 
carefully watched on every side to prevent their being taken by 
surprise ; when he wanted to feed, he touched any passer-by, 
who immediately relieved him in his guard, and he in his turn 
called on some other Swan to take his place as sentinel.' 



BEWICK'S SWAN 183 

Swans, like wild Geese, are in the hal^it of returning every year 
to the same district of country, and in passing to and from their 
feeding-ground keep closely to the same line of flight, a peculiarity 
of which fowlers take advantage by lying in ambuscade somewhere 
beneath their aerial road. 

When disturbed on the water they generally huddle together 
and utter a low cry of alarm before they take flight. Owing to 
their great weight, they have not the power of rising suddenly into 
the air, but flap along the water, beating the surface with their 
great wings, some twenty or thirty yards. The flapping noise 
made while this process is going on, may be heard at a great 
distance. 

In severe winters, flocks of Whoopers, Whistling Swans, or Elks, 
as they are variously called, come farther south, and may be 
observed from time to time on different parts of the coast. 



BEWICK'S SWAN 

CYGNUS BEWICKI 

Whole plumage pure white ; bill black, orange-yellow at the base ; irides 
dark ; feet black ; tail of eighteen feathers. Young birds greyish brown ; 
immature specimens tinged on the head and belly with rust-red. Length 
three feet nine inches ; breadth forty-six to fifty. Eggs dull white, tinged 
with brown. 

Bewick's Swan is distinguished from the Whooper, not only by 
the characters given above, but by strongly marked anatomical 
features, which were first pointed out by Mr. Yarrell, who, with 
the modesty and generosity for which he was noted, gave it its 
present name ; ' Thus devoting it to the memory of one whose 
beautiful and animated delineations of subjects in natural history 
entitle him to this tribute.' 

In severe winters it is fairly frequent on the coasts of England, 
and even abundant in Scotland. In the case of distant flocks the 
only criterion is size ; and as this species is one-third less than the 
Whooper, there is little probability of an experienced observer 
being mistaken in the identity. 

In their habits they closely resemble their congeners, but are 
less graceful in their movements on the water, and spend a larger 
portion of their time on land. 



i84 THE COMMON SHELD-DRAKE 

THE COMMON SHELD-DRAKE 

TADORNA CORNUTA 

Head, throat, and upper back black, with green reflections ; lower parts 
of the neck and back, flanks, rump and tail (except the black tip) white ; 
from the shoulders a broad band of bright chestnut, which meets on the 
breast, passing into a broad, blotched, black band, which passes down the 
abdomen nearly to the tail ; under tail-coverts pale reddish yellow ; 
scapulars black ; wing-coverts white ; secondaries chestnut ; primaries 
black ; speculum bronzed green and purple ; bill, and protuberance at 
the base, red ; irides brown ; feet crimson-red. The female wants the 
red protuberance on the bill, and the colours generally are somewhat 
less bright. Length twenty to twenty-two inches. Eggs white, tinged 
with green. 

The Sheld-drake is the largest and among the handsomest of the 
British Ducks, and if easy of domestication would be no doubt a 
common ornament of our lakes and rivers. It Is, however, in 
Great Britain at least, a marine bird ; though from one of its 
French names. Canard des Alpes, it would seem also to frequent 
the large continental lakes. Numerous attempts have been made 
to familiarize it with inland fresh-water haunts to which some other 
species readUy take, but they have rarely succeeded, while to 
induce it to breed at a distance from its seaside home has proved 
yet more difhcult. 

It differs from the majority of the Duck tribe in remaining on 
the coast of Britain throughout the year. In South Wales, for 
example, it is seen in winter and early spring, but about the breed- 
ing season it disappears for a few weeks. During this interval it 
is employed in incubation, but when its brood is hatched it is seen 
again, accompanied by a troop of ducklings, feeding in the creeks 
and marshy places. When thus discovered, the young broods 
are commonly hunted down by seaside idlers for the sake of being 
sold to any one who cares to try the experiment of rearing them. 

On the coast of Norfolk it is more usual to search for the nests, 
in order to secure the eggs and place them under a tame Duck or 
domestic Hen. The male and female keep together, not only 
during incubation, but untU the young are able to provide for them- 
selves. It derives the name ' Burrow Duck ', by which it is also 
known, from its custom of making its nest either in the burrow 
of a rabbit or in a hole hollowed out by itself. The nest is con- 
structed of such herbage as abounds in the neighbourhood ; it is 
lined with down plucked from the breast of the parent bird, and 
contains from ten to twelve eggs. 

Pennant (vol. ii, p. 257) says of these birds : " They inhabit 
the sea-coasts and breed in rabbit-holes. When a person attempts 
to take their young, the old birds show great address in diverting 
his attention from the brood ; they will fly along the ground as if 



THE WILD DUCK 185 

wounded, till the former can get into a place of security, and then 
return and collect them together." 

From this instinctive cunning, Turner, with good reason, imagines 
them to be the chenalopex, or Tox-Goose, of the ancients ; the natives 
of the Orkneys to this day call them the Sly-Goose, from an attribute 
of that quadruped. 

Sheld-drake are more numerous during the summer in North 
Britain than in the South, but in winter they are driven by the 
freezing of their feeding-grounds to more temperate climates. Here 
niunbers of them meet the fate of wUd fowl generally, and specimens 
are often to be seen exposed in the English markets, though their 
flesh is held in little estimation as food. 

Sheld means parti-coloured. 'Shelled' is still current in the 
eastern counties of England. Shelled duck is the more proper 
appellation. Howard Saunders calls it Sheld-duck always. 



THE WILD DUCK 

ANAS BOSCAS 

Head and neck dark green ; at the base of the neck a white collar ; upper 
parts marked with fine zigzag Hnes of ash-brown and grey ; breast 
chestnut ; lower parts greyish white, marked with fine zigzag ash-brown 
lines ; speculum dark blue with purple and green reflections, bordered 
above and below with black and wliite ; four middle feathers of the tail 
curled upwards bill greenish yellow ; irides red-brown ; feet orange. 
Length twenty-four inches. Female smaller ; plumage mottled with 
various shades of brown and grey ; throat whitish ; speculum as in the 
male ; all the tail-feathers straight. Eggs greenish white. 

Its size, abundance, and value as an article of food, have given 
to the WUd Duck an importance which belongs to few other British 
birds ; and the modes of capturing it are so varied and interesting 
that they are often to be met with described in works not exclusively 
devoted to natural history. For this reason I shall in great measure 
confine my notice of this bird to such particulars in its history as 
the reader may probably have an opportunity of verifying by 
his own observation in the course of his rambles among places 
which it habitually frequents. 

The term ' Wild Duck ', properly applicable to the female bird 
only (' Mallard ' being the distinctive name of the male), is generally 
employed to include both sexes. The difference in the plumage 
of the two is very great, as, indeed, is the case with all those varieties 
of the same bird which, under the name of ' Tame Ducks, ' have 
altered the least from their natural wUd type. Yet in the summer 
months, when both sexes moult,^ the Mallard puts off the whole 
of his characteristic gay plumage, and appears in the sober brown 

» Formerly spelt ' mute ', from the Latin muto, to change. 



i8<J THE WILD DUCK 

garb of the Duck. It is only, in fact, from October to May that the 
Mallard can be distinguished from his partner by his markings. 
At this season, too, young birds, so far as they are fledged, are 
of the same tone of colouring. Domesticated birds are subject 
to the same change ; but a reason for this singular metamorphosis 
no naturalist, as far as I am aware, has ventured to assign. 

Wild Ducks hold a prominent place among birds of the most 
extensive distribution, being ' indigenous to the greater part of the 
northern hemisphere '.^ In consequence of this wide range they 
must of necessity frequent many districts highly favourable to 
their preservation ; they are therefore numerous. Equally well 
adapted for travelling by sea and through the air, and capable of 
enduring great variations of heat and cold, their presence may be 
expected wherever a tract of country occurs calculated to supply 
them with food and opportunities for nidification. As long as 
England abounded in marshes, and her rivers ran through wastes 
rarely frequented by man. Wild Ducks were numerous in many 
counties where they are now but rarely seen. Many have retired 
before draining and civilization, yet they never totally desert us. 
In most districts where there are rivers lined with reeds, even not so 
very far removed from the sound of the steam-engine, one may, 
by cautiously and quietly guiding one's steps, fall in with a brood 
of active ducklings sifting the ooze, with the instinct of their land, 
for minute insects ; flapping along the water in chase of a fly, or 
paddling among the reeds on the look-out for anything good to 
eat. The matron of the party, with a proud consciousness of her 
dignity as sentinel and protector, preserves a more stately demeanour, 
but, with this slight difference, is similarly occupied. As you 
approach she is the first to descry you ; with a homely ' quack*, 
differing in no respect from the note of the domesticated bird, 
she sounds an alarm, and the whole family, mother and children, 
are quickly concealed among the reeds. It is possible, by long- 
continued persecution, to induce her to rise, but she does so re- 
luctantly, and even then, unless you are such a barbarian as to 
shoot her, all is yet safe. The young will hide themselves securely 
until danger is past, and she, not far off, though unseen, is circling 
round her helpless brood. In an islet, probably, of the river ; in a 
tuft of reeds surrounded by quagmire ; among thick bushes neai 
the bank ; under the stump of an alder, or even high up among 
the branches, she formerly had her nest, composed of grass, and 
lined with down from her own breast ; and at no great distance 
from this her offspring are yet lingering. The latter could swim 
immediately that they left the egg, but their bodies are large and 
heavy in proportion to the size of their wings, so that they will be 
unable to fly until nine or ten weeks old, when they wiU be thoroughly 

> Yarrell, vol. iii. p. 273. 



THE WILD DUCK 187 

fledged, and only distinguishable from their parent by their smaller 
size. 

From the rapidity with which young Ducks ' scutter ' along the 
surface of the water, using both feet and wings, they are called 
by sportsmen, ' flappers ' ; and from the same habit, no doubt, the 
children's game of ' Ducks-and-drakes ' was named. The word is 
one with which I have been familiar, like most other people, from 
my earliest years, yet I never thought of its etymology until I was 
passing, a few weeks since, in a steamer down Loch Tarbet. The 
boat disturbed a party of ' flappers ' which were feeding near the 
shore, and as they half flew, half paddled away at a rapid rate, the 
sport and the name suggested themselves to my mind together. 
It is mostly absent from the northern districts of Scotland in winter. 

In marshy districts, both in England and Scotland, these birds 
remain all the year round ; but their numbers are greatly augmented 
in winter by the arrival of large flocks from the north. These 
fly mostly by night, in long lines, and proceed to the fens and salt 
marshes, where they feed until daylight. They then put out to 
sea, and rest, floating on the water, until dusk ; and it is while they 
*re on their way to and from these feeding-grounds that the sea- 
side gunners do the greatest execution among them. They fly 
mostly in small parties, and utter no note ; but if after dusk a 
shot be fired in the vicinity of a marsh or of a piece of reclaimed 
land intersected by ditches, it is followed by a concert of ' quacks ' 
from all sides, which proves that however small the parties may 
have been, the number of Ducks collectively must be very great. 

In the neighbourhood of the salt marshes in the eastern counties, 
one may meet, in severe winter weather, just before dusk, little 
knots of men setting out on ducking expeditions. Each is furnished 
with a spade, a bag of straw, and a gun. Experience has taught 
these men that the line of flight usually taken by the birds is along a 
narrow creek or arm of the sea, which has on either side a high 
muddy bank. For such a point the gunners are making. The use of 
the spade is to dig a hole for concealment in the mud, and the straw 
is intended to furnish a dry seat. It must be a wearisome occupation 
to sit here hour after hour, with nothing to do but to hope that birds 
are coming ; and when they come matters are not much mended ; 
for if the shot be successful it will never do to leave the hiding- 
place in order to pick up the booty, or another chance may be 
missed. Three or four hours are thus spent, and on moonlight 
nights a longer time. The slain birds are then collected, a few 
hours are given to rest, and in the morning twilight the same 
scene is re-enacted. 

When it is desired to construct a decoy,^ a quiet, shallow pond 

1 Decoy, a corruption of Duck-coy, from the Dutch kooi, a cage or pen. 
See Ray and Willughby's Ornithology, p. 286, where, mention being made of 
a method of capturing wild-fowl which had been introduced into England 



i88 THE WILD DUCK 

is selected, edged with reeds, and having an extent of from two to 
fifty acres or more. From the edge of this are dug, at various 
points, curved creeks, called ' pipes ', broad at the mouth, and 
contracting till the banks meet. Over each of these pipes is thrown 
a net, supported on arches made of hoops ; the first about ten 
feet high, the others diminishing in size, and the whole ending in a 
bag-net, or ' purse '. On each bank of the pipes are erected screens 
made of reeds, high enough to conceal a man. Previously to com- 
mencing operations the decoy-man has let loose on the pond a few 
tame Ducks, closely resembling wild birds in plumage, who are 
familiar with his person and have been trained to come at his call. 
Accompanied by a little dog, ' a piper ', he stations himself behind 
a screen, near the mouth of a pipe which faces the wind, choosing 
this position because Ducks prefer to swim against the wind and to 
feed on a lee shore. When the pond is well stocked with birds he 
throws some com on the water near the mouth of a pipe, and makes 
a low whistle. ' At the familiar sound the ' coy-ducks ' hasten to 
the spot, and, if all be well, are followed by a portion of the wild 
birds. The piper is then let loose, and immediately nins to the 
water's edge. The Wild Ducks, either from curiosity, or some 
unknown motive, paddle towards him. The ruse succeeding so far, 
the piper is made to appear for a moment beyond the next screen, 
and so on until a party of Ducks have been lured so far up the pipe 
as to be out of sight of those remaining in the pond. The decoy- 
man, who has all the while been lying hid near the first screen, then 
shows himself to his intended victims, who, in their flight, hurry 
on to the ' purse ', and are caught and dispatched at leisure. All 
this time the coy-ducks, if well trained, have remained at the mouth 
of the pipe, feeding, and unconsciously enticing new-comers into 
the snare. 

That this method of capturing wild-fowl is effective, may be 
inferred from the fact that decoys of a precisely similar kind have 
been worked ever since the time of Willughby (1676), who describes 
them at length. A Son of the Marshes gives a fuller account 
of Duck decoys in Wild-Fowl and Sea-Fowl. 

from Holland, the following passage occurs : ' Piscinas hasce cum allecta- 
tricibus at reliquo suo apparatu Decoys seu Duck-coys vocant, allectatrices 
Coy-ducks.' 



THE SHOVELER 189 

THE GADWALL 

ANAS STR^PERA 

Head and neck light grey, speckled with brown ; back and breast dark grey, 
the feathers ending in crescent-shaped whitish hnes; belly white, speckled 
with brown ; small wing-coverts and tip of the wing chestnut ; greater 
coverts, rump, and tail-coverts black ; speculum white ; bill black ; irides 
brown ; feet orange. Female less distinctly marked. Length twenty 
inches. Eggs bufiy white, tinged with green. 

This species of Duck now breeds in Norfolk and Suffolk. Its food 
and habits closely resemble those of the other Ducks ; it is active, 
and both swims and flies rapidly, preferring fresh-water lakes to 
the sea, and resorting principally to such pieces of water as afford 
it ready concealment. Meyer states that when flocks of Gadwalls 
' fly about, they keep close together in a ball, but not in a line, and 
may therefore be very soon distinguished from the common wild 
Duck'. By day they mostly swim about in the open water, and 
come near the shore to feed in the evening. They breed in the great 
northern marshes of both hemispheres. The Gadwall is a surface 
feeder and not a diving duck. 



THE SHOVELER 

SPATULA CLYPEATA 

Head and neck glossy green ; breast pure white ; belly and flanks chestnut ; 
back brown ; lesser wing-coverts pale blue ; scapulars white, speckled 
and spotted with black ; speculum brilliant green ; bill lead colour ; 
irides yellow ; feet reddish orange. Female — head pale reddish brown, 
streaked with dusky ; upper plumage dusky brown, edged with reddish 
white ; under plumage reddish with large brown spots ; the blue and 
green of the wings less bright. Length twenty inches. Eggs greenish 
buff. 

The Shoveler is well distinguished among all the British Ducks 
by the form and structure of its bill, which in old birds is dilated 
near the extremity into a form approaching that of a spoon, and is 
furnished with a fringe of slender lamellae, resembling a comb. To- 
wards the end of the bill these are not conspicuous as long as the 
mouth of the bird is closed, but along the narrower part they are 
prominent under all circumstances. So singular an apparatus 
obviously indicates that the habit of the Shoveler is to sift water 
and mud for the sake of securing the insects and worms which 
they contain. It resorts, therefore, to the margins of fresh-water 
lakes, ponds, and ditches, and is rarely seen at sea, nor does it ever 
dive after its food in deep water, but frequently comes to land in 
quest of slugs, snails, and worms. It is met with from time to time 



T90 THE PINTAIL DUCK 

in many parts of England ; a tolerable number remain to breed 
with us, especially in the eastern counties. Its distaste for the sea 
disqualifies it for inhabiting the Arctic Regions ; consequently it 
breeds in temperate countries, and flies farther to the south in 
winter, having been observed on both shores of the Mediterranean, 
and in some of the warm parts of India. The extensive drainage 
of our fens and marshes has made it less frequent in England than 
it formerly was ; but in Holland and other continental countries it 
is abundant. The nest, usually placed in a tuft of grass, is made of 
dry grass mixed with down which the female plucks from her own 
body, and contains eight or nine eggs. 

The Shoveler is not sufficiently common in this country to claim 
any importance as an article of food, but its flesh is said to be superior 
in flavour even to that of the famous Canvas-backed Duck of 
America. 

The male annually undergoes a moult, or change of feathers, 
similar to that described as taking place in the Mallard. 



THE PINTAIL DUCK 

DAFILA ACUTA 

Two central tail-feathers much elongated, black ; head and neck rich dark 
brown ; back and flanks marked with zigzag black and grey Unes ; front 
of the neck, and a line on each side, white ; speculum lustrous wth green 
and purple, bounded above by reddish brown, below by white ; bill lead 
colour and black. Female — central tail-feathers scarcely elongated ; 
head and neck reddish brown speckled with dusky ; upper feathers dusky 
edged with reddish white ; lower plumage reddish yellow spotted with 
brown ; speculum dull yellowish brown ; no white line on the side of 
the neck. Length twenty-six inches. Eggs dull greenish white. 

The Pintail Duck is a northern bird which visits our shores in small 
parties, during severe winters, and it nests sometimes in Ireland. 
In form it is the most elegant of all the Ducks, and its movements are 
described as being active and graceful. I have never myself had 
the good fortune to see one alive, the only specimen I ever possessed 
having been sent to me from Newcastle-on-Tyne, near which it was 
shot at sea. It is not, however, considered a very rare species, 
as the fishermen on the Norfolk coast, and perhaps elsewhere, are 
well acquainted with it. Yarrell states, that on the coast of Dorset- 
shire and Hampshire it is so well known as to have acquired a local 
name, ' Sea Pheasant '.^ For this it is indebted to the length of its 
tail, in which respect it differs from all the common Ducks. It 
arrives early in autumn, and remains either on the coast or in the 
inland marshes, until the return of spring ; differing, indeed, little 

» Willughby calls it the ' Sea Pheasant '. or ' Cracker '. 




'ffA^'^ 




Teal S 2 
Pintail Duck $ 



Garganey J 
Wigeon $ 



fp. 190. 




>*^ 




/ 










Pochard <? 2 




Tufted Duck^ 


Seaup cT 


Golden 


Eyec? $ 



THE TEAL 191 

In its habits from the common wild Duck. It is occasionally taken 
in decoys in Norfolk, and has often been observed to associate with 
Wigeons. Its note is described by Montagu as being 'extremely 
soft and inward '. 

The Pintail Duck has a wide geographical range, as it either 
breeds in or pays winter visits to the greater part of the northern 
hemisphere. The male annually assumes in summer the plumage 
of the female, resembling in this respect the Mallard, to be described 
hereafter. The flesh is considered excellent, on which account it 
is much sought after by wild-fowl shooters, both on the coast and 
In the fens. 



THE TEAL 

QUERQUfeDULA Cr6cCA 

Head and neck bright chestnut ; on each side of the head a broad green band 
edged with buff, inclosing the eye and extending to the nape ; lower 
part of the neck, back, and flanks, marked with numerous black and 
white zigzag lines ; breast reddish white, with roundish black spots ; 
speculum black, green and purple, edged with white ; bill dusky ; irides 
brown ; feet ash. Female — upper plumage dusky brown mottled with 
reddish grey ; throat, cheeks and a band behind the eyes yellowish 
white spotted with black ; speculum black and green. Length fourteen 
inches and a half. Eggs yellowish white. 

The Teal is the smallest, and by no means the least beautiful, among 
the British Ducks. It is decidedly an indigenous species, as it 
breeds in many parts both of Great Britain and Ireland, especially 
in the eastern counties, in Welsh bogs, and northern mosses. It is 
domesticated, too, without difficulty, and is generally to be found 
on artificial and other pieces of water where the breed of water fowl 
is encouraged. Its favourite summer resorts in England are lakes 
which are lined with rushes, boggy places on the moors, and sedgy 
rivers. It is an active bird, rising from the water with great facility, 
and having a rapid flight. The few Teal which remain all the year 
with us pair early in spring. I have observed them in couples on 
the Kennet, in Berkshire, before winter had well departed. They 
appear to have a strong attachment to any place on which they 
have once fixed to build their nest, and return to the same locality 
year after year ; and the young brood remain in the neighbourhood 
of their birthplace until pairing time in the following year. The 
nest is usually placed among coarse herbage by the bank of a lake 
or river, and is constructed of decayed vegetable matter, lined with 
down and feathers, and contains from ten to fifteen eggs. The 
number, however, of these birds to be found with us in summer is 
as nothing compared with the immense flocks which visit our inland 
lakes and swamps in winter. They are then much sought after for 
the table, being considered more delicate eating than any others of 



t93 THE WIGEON 

the tribe. In some parts they repair to salt marshes and the sea- 
shore, where they share the fate of the Wild Duck. 

Willughby tells us that in his time the Teal and Wigeon, considered 
as marketable goods, were classed together as ' half -fowl ', their 
value being only half that of the Wild Duck. In the fen counties 
they are still ranked together as ' Half Ducks ', and for the same 
reason. 

The Teal has two notes, one a kind of quack, the other, uttered 
by the male only during winter, which has been compared to the 
whistle of the Plover. Its food consists of water insects, molluscs, 
worms, and the seeds of grass and sedge. It is widely distributed 
in Scotland. 

THE GARGANEY 

QUERQUilDULA CIRCIA 

Crovra dusky ; over the eye a white band extending down the neck ; throat 
black ; neck chestnut-brown streaked with white ; breast pale yellowish 
brown, with crescent-shaped black bars ; back mottled with dusky grey 
and brown ; speculum greyish green bordered above and below with 
white ; bill dark brown ; irides brown ; feet grey. Length sixteen 
inches. Eggs bufif. 

This elegant little bird visits us in March and April, being at that 
time, it is supposed, on its way to the south. Though not among 
the rarest of the tribe, it is now of unusual occurrence, but was 
formerly so regular a visitor in the eastern counties, that it acquired 
the provincial name of ' Summer Teal/. Young birds are 
commonly seen on the Broads of Norfolk in July and August, dis- 
tinguishable from young Teal by the lighter colour of their plumage, 
more slender habit, and greater length of neck. The nests are built 
among the thickest reed beds, and owing now to protection their 
numbers are increasing. In Ireland it is the rarest of the well- 
known ducks. 

THE WIGEON 

MARl&CA PENELOPE 

Male — head and upper part of the neck chestnut, the cheeks and crown 
speckled with black ; a broad cream-coloured band extending from the 
bill to the crown ; throat nearly black ; a narrow collar of white and black 
wavy lines extending over the back and flanks ; lower part of the neck and 
sides of the breast chocolate colour ; scapulars velvet-black edged with 
white ; wing-coverts white ; quills ash-brown ; speculum glossy green, 
with a black band above and below ; tail wedge-shaped, two middle 
feathers pointed, and the longest, dusky ash ; under tail-coverts black ; 
bill bluish grey, the tip black ; irides hazel ; feet dusky grey. Female — 
head and neck reddish brown, speckled with dusky ; back and scapulars 
dusky brown, the feathers edged with rusty red ; wing-coverts brown, 
edged with whitish ; speculum without the green gloss ; flanks reddish 
brown. Length twenty inches. Eggs brownish white. 

The name Whew Duck, or Whewer, by which, this bird is 



THE COMMON POCHARD J93 

known In some parts of England, was given to it on account of 
its emitting a shrill whistle while flying. The name is an old one, 
for Ray and Willughby describe it under the name of ' Whewer '. 
Its French name Siffleur, ' Whistler ', has reference to the same 
peculiarity, and by this note the bird may often be distinguished 
from others of the same tribe, when so far off that the eye fails 
to identify it. The Wigeon ranks next to the Teal and Wild Duck 
as an article of food, and, being more plentiful than either of these 
birds, it is among the best known of all the Ducks which frequent 
our shores. It breeds over most of Sutherland, and sparingly 
elsewhere in the north ; a few pairs are said to nest also in various 
parts of Ireland. 

Flocks of Wigeons repair to our shores in autumn, and either 
betake themselves to inland lakes and morasses, or keep to the coast, 
especially where there are extensive salt marshes. In winter 
their numbers are greatly increased, especially in the south ; and 
as they feed by day as well as by night, they offer themselves a 
ready prey to the fowler. Their food consists of marine and fresh- 
water insects, small sheU-fish, seaweed, and grass. Their nidifi- 
cation differs little from that of the Teal. 



THE COMMON POCHARD 

FULfGULA FERINA 

Head and neck bright chestnut ; breast, upper part of the back, and rump 
black ; back, scapulars, flanks, and abdomen greyish white marked 
with numerous fine wavy lines ; no speculum ; bill black, with a broad 
lead-coloured transverse band ; irides bright orange ; feet lead colour, 
the membranes black. Female — smaller ; head, neck, and breast, reddish 
brown ; throat white, mottled with reddish ; large brown spots on the 
flanks ; wavy lines on the back less distinct. Length nineteen inches. 
Eggs greenish white. 

A HARDY northern bird of wide geographical range, with consider- 
able power of flight, a skilful diver, and not particular as to diet, 
the Pochard is an abundant species. It breeds in some districts; 
But it is principally as a winter visitant that it is known in the south 
of Europe. In Norfolk ' Red-Headed ' Pochards are perhaps more 
nimierous than any other kind of Duck which falls to the gun of the 
seaside fowler. Small parties of these birds may frequently be 
seen by day flying over the sea, or swimming securely in the offing ; 
and in the evening great numbers resort to the fens and salt marshes, 
where they feed on various kinds of animal matter, and the roots 
and leaves of grasses and aquatic plants. As they are considered 
good eating, and command a ready sale, they contribute to the 
support of the seaside population, who, when thrown out of work 
by the severe weather, wander about the shore by day and lie in 
B.B. Q 



194 THE SCAUP DUCK 

wait by night, armed with guns of various calibre, for the chance 
of securing in one or two Ducks the substitute for a day's wages. 

They are variously known in different places by the name of 
Pochards, Pokers, Dunbirds, and Red-Eyed Pochards. On some 
parts of the coast of Norfolk I found that they are included with the 
Wigeon under the common name of ' Smee-Duck'. 

The Pochard builds its nest among reeds, in Russia, Denmark, 
and the north of Germany, and lays twelve or thirteen eggs. 

The Red-crested is a different species from the ' Red-headed.' 

THE TUFTED DUCK 

FULfGULA CRISTATA 

Feathers on the back of the head elongated ; head, neck, breast, and upper 
plumage black, with purple, green, and bronze reflections ; speculum and 
under plumage white, except the abdomen, which is dusky ; bill blue, nail 
black ; irides bright yellow ; feet bluish, with black membranes. Female 
— smaller, the crest shorter ; upper plumage dull black, clouded with 
brown ; under plumage reddish white, spotted on the breast and flanks 
with reddish brown. Length seventeen inches. Eggs greenish white 
spotted with light brown. 

The points of difference in habit between this and the' preceding 
species are so few that it is scarcely necessary to say more than 
that it is a regular winter visitor to the British Isles, and is distri- 
buted, generally in small flocks, never alone, over our lakes and 
marshes, arriving in October and taking its departure in March or 
AprU. Its food is less exclusively of a fishy nature than that of the 
Scaup Duck, consequently its flesh is more palatable, being, in the 
estimation of French gastronomists, un roti parfait. The Tufted 
Duck now breeds in a good many districts here. 



THE SCAUP DUCK 

FULIGULA MARfLA 

Head and upper part of the neck black, with green reflections ; breast and 
rump black ; back and scapulars whitish, marked with numerous fine 
wavy blaick Hues ; belly, flanks, and speculum, white ; bill blue, the nail 
and edges black ; irides bright yellow ; feet ash-grey, with dusky mem- 
branes. Female — a broad whitish band round the base of the bill ; head 
and neck dusky brown ; breast and rump dark brown ; back marked 
with fine wavy lines of black and white ; flanks spotted and pencilled 
with brown, irides dull yellow. Length twenty inches. Eggs clay- 
bufE. 

The Scaup is so called from its feeding on ' scaup', a northern word 
for a bed of shellfish.^ It is a northern bird, arriving on our coasts 
in October and November, and remaining with us till the following 

1 ' Avis haec the Scaup Duck dicta est quoniam scalpam, i.e. pisces testa- 
ceos fractos seu contritos, esitat.' — Willughby, p. 279. 



THE GOLDEN EYE 195 

spring. During this time it frequents those parts of the coast 
which abound in shellfish, mostly diving for its food after the 
manner of the Scoters. On the coast of Norfolk, where Scaups 
often appear during winter in large flocks, they are called * Mussel 
Ducks', a name no less appropriate than Scaup ; for mussels, and 
indeed many other kinds of shellfish, as well as insects and marine 
plants, seem equally acceptable to them. Selby records a single 
instance of the Scaup having bred so far south as Sutherlandshire, 
a female having been seen in the month of June, accompanied by 
a young one. They have paired on Loch Leven. It is generally 
distributed along the shores of Great Britain, excepting on the 
south coast [of Ireland. In August, 1861, I observed two birds 
swimming sociably on a small fresh-water loch in the island of Islay, 
which, upon examination through a telescope, appeared to me to 
be, one, a kind of Goose, the other decidedly a Duck of some kind. 
On inquiry I found that the former was a Bernacle Goose, which had 
been caught in a neighbouring island in the previous winter, and 
had been given to the laird's keeper, who pinioned it and turned it 
out on the loch to shift for itself. Of the Duck nothing was known, 
nor had it been observed before. It eventually proved to be an 
adult male Scaup Duck, but what had induced it to remain there 
all the summer in the society of a bird of a different tribe, is a 
question which I did not attempt to solve. 

The Scaup Duck is very abundant in Holland during winter, 
covering the inland seas with immense flocks. It is found more 
sparingly in other continental countries. It breeds in the extreme 
north, both in the eastern and western hemispheres. 



THE GOLDEN EYE 

CLANGULA GLAUCION 

A white patch under the eye ; head and neck black, lustrous with violet 
and green ; back black ; scapulars, great wing-coverts, speculum, and 
under parts, white ; bill black ; irides golden yellow ; feet orange, with 
black membranes. Female — all the head and neck dark brown ; feathers 
of the back dusky bordered w^th dark ash ; greater wing-coverts white 
tipped with black ; speculum and under parts white ; tip of the bill 
yellowish, irides and feet pale yellow. Length eighteen and a half inches. 
Eggs bufiEy white. 

This pretty, active little Duck is a regular winter visitant to the 
British shores, from autumn to spring, resorting to most of the locali- 
ties frequented by other species, and frequently falling to the sports- 
man's gun, though little prized for the table. Females and young 
birds, called Morillons, are most numerous in England. They are 
very strong of flight, and are remarkable for making with their 
wings as they cleave the air a whistling sound, thought to resemble 



196 THE LOXG-TAILED DUCK OR ' CALLOO ' 

the tinkling of bells, whence the German name die Schelle Ente, 
Bell Duck, the Norfolk provincial name Rattle-Wing, and the 
systematic name Clangula. The young male does not make this 
noise, and having also dissimilar plumage from the adult, has been 
described by some authors as a distinct species under the name of 
Morillon. 

The food of the Golden Eye varies with its haunts. In estuaries 
it feeds on crustaceous and molluscous animals and small fish, which 
it obtains by diving. In rivers and lakes it feeds principally on 
the larvae and pupae of insects, for which also it dives in clear deep 
water. The call-note is an unmelodious quack or croak. 

The Golden Eye breeds only in high latitudes, and builds its nest 
in holes of trees, often at the height of twelve or fifteen feet from 
the water, into which it has been seen to convey its young one by 
one, holding them under the bill, and supported on its neck. The 
Lapps, in order to supply themselves with eggs, are in the habit 
of placing In the trees, on the banks of the rivers and lakes fre- 
quented by these birds, boxes with an entrance hole, which, though 
invariably robbed, are visited again and again. 

The Golden Eye is found in many countries of Europe, in Northern 
Asia, and in North America. 



THE LONG-TAILED DUCK, OR ' CALLOO ' 

HARELDA GLACIALIS 

Winter plumage — head, neck, elongated scapulars, under parts, and lateral 
tail-feathers white ; a large patch of chestnut-brown on each cheek ; 
flanks ash-grey ; rest of the plumage brownish black ; two central tail- 
feathers very long ; bill black, with a transverse orange band ; irides 
orange ; feet yellow with dark membranes. Length, including the tail, 
twenty-two inches. The female wants the white scapulars and elongated 
tail ; head and neck dark brown and greyish white ; below the ear-coverts 
a patch of brown ; neck in front light brown, clouded with darker brown ; 
upper plumage generally dark brown, under white. Length sixteen 
inches. Eggs greenish white, tinged with buff. 

Though a few specimens of this beautiful bird are obtained from 
time to time in various parts of England, especially on the coast 
of the eastern counties, it cannot be considered other than a rarity. 
' Among the northern islands of Scotland, and along the coasts of 
the mainland', MacgLUivray tells us, ' these birds make their appear- 
ance in October, in small flocks, which gradually enlarge by the 
accession of new families. In the Bay of Cromart5^ where they are 
very common, it is pleasant to see them in small flocks scattered 
over the water. They are most expert swimmers, and live on 
bivalve shellfish and Crustacea, which they obtain by diving in 
shallow or moderately deep water. The male in swimming raises 
his tail obliquely, in rough water almost erects it, and is remarkable 



THE EIDER DUCK 1^7 

for the grace and vivacity of his movements. Their flight is 

rapid, direct, and generally performed at the height of a few feet. 
They rise easily from the water, especially when facing a breeze, 
and alight rather abruptly. Sometimes during the day, but 
more frequently at night, they emit various loud and rather 
plaintive cries, as well as cacklings of shorter guttural notes.' Mr. 
Hewitson, who met with many of them in Nonvay, considers 
their note to be strikingly wild and most interesting. Farther north 
the Long-Tailed Duck is yet more abundant. Mr. Dunn says, ' This 
species (Calloo) is very abundant in both Orkney and Shetland, 
arriving about the middle of October, and departing again in the 
month of March. It is to be met with in all the inlets or voes, 
generally in large flocks, never far from the land, feeding upon small 
shellfish and star-fish. When on the wing it utters a musical cry, 
something like " Calloo ", which may be heard at a great distance. 
From this cry it derives its provincial name.' In the Arctic regions 
of both continents these birds are so numerous as to be known by 
the name of ' Arctic Ducks'. They build their nests among rushes 
near the shore of fresh-water lakes, and line them with down from 
their breasts, like the Eider Duck. Iceland appears to be the 
extreme southern limit of their breeding-ground. 

The Long-Tailed Duck is described by Willughby under the name 
of Anas caudacuta Islandica, by the natives called Havelda. Selby 
and modem ornithologists have preserved the Iceland name in 
Harolda. 



THE EIDER DUCK 

SOMATERIA MOLLISSIMA 

Prolongations of the bill flat ; upper part of the head velvet-black, with a 
central whitish band, lower greenish white ; neck and back white ; 
breast ringed with red ; lower plumage black ; bill and feet greenish 
grey ; irides brown. Female — general plumage reddish brown, with 
transverse black bars ; wing-coverts black, bordered ^\■ith dark reddish 
brown ; two whitish bars across the wing ; belly brown barred with 
black. Length twenty-five inches. Eggs shining greenish grey. 

The Eider Duck differs from all the birds of the same tribe hitherto 
described, in being essentially and absolutely a sea-bird. Rarely 
found on inland waters, it does not even visit the fresh-water lochs 
which, in many places in the north, are only separated from the 
sea by a bar of sand and shingle. It spends the greater part of its 
time on the water, and feeds on fish, molluscs, and other animal 
matter which it can obtain by diving. In the latter art it is very 
expert, and when pursued by the fowler generally manages to escape, 
as it can remain a long time under water, and on rising to the surface 
is ready to descend again almost instantly. Though a northern 
bird, it is subjected to no privations by the freezing of lakes and 



198 THE EIDER DUCK 

marshes, since it finds its rest and food on the open sea. Conse- 
quently it is not migratory, and stray specimens only visit the 
southern shores of England. Where it was bred, there, probably, or 
not farofE, it remains all the year round. The Farn Islands, off the 
coast of Northumberland, are considered to be the extreme southern 
limit of its breeding-ground. In the Hebrides, the Orkneys and 
Shetland Islands, it is quite at home, but in none of these places is 
it found in suf&cient numbers to give it importance. It is rare on 
the Irish coast. 

In the Arctic regions, In Iceland, and on the rocky coasts of 
Norway and Sweden, Eider Ducks are very numerous. In Labrador, 
Audubon informs us, they begin to form their nests about the end 
of May or the beginning of June. ' For this purpose some resort 
to islands scantily furnished with grass ; others choose a site beneath 
the spreading boughs of stunted firs, and, in such places, five, six, 
or even eight are sometimes found beneath a single bush ; many are 
placed on the sheltered shelvings of rocks a few feet above high- 
water mark. The nest, which is sunk as much as possible into the 
ground, is formed of sea-weeds, mosses, and dried twigs, so matted 
and interlaced as to give an appearance of neatness to the central 
cavity, which rarely exceeds seven inches in diameter. In the 
beginning of June the eggs are deposited, the male attending upon 
the female the whole time. The eggs, which are regularly placed 
on the moss and weeds of the nest without any down, are generally 
from five to seven. When the full complement of eggs has been 
laid,'ihe female begins to pluck some down from the lower part oi 
the body ; this operation is daily continued for some time, until 
the roots of the feathers, as far forward as she can reach, are quite 
bare. This down she disposes beneath and around the eggs. When 
she leaves the nest to go in search of food, she places it over her 
eggs to keep up their warmth.' 

Sir W. J. Hooker, in his interesting Journal of a Tour in Iceland, 
describes the nests as he saw them in the little island of Akaroe, 
where, as on other uninhabited islands, the Eider Ducks breed in 
great numbers. " On our landing on the rocky island, we found 
the Eider fowls sitting upon their nests, which were rudely 
formed of their own down, generally among the old and half- 
decayed sea-weed, that the storms had cast high up on the beach, 
but sometimes only among the bare rocks. It was difficult to make 
these birds leave their nests, and so little inclined were many of 
them to do it, that they even permitted us to handle them, whilst 
they were sitting, without their appearing to be at all alarmed. 
Under each of them were two or four eggs ; the latter is the number 
they lay, but from many of them two had been taken for food by 
the natives, who prefer those which have young ones in them. 
June 24th." A few days later (June 27,) he visited the island of 
Vidoe, the residence of the ex-governor, where, he says, ' we were 






Eider Duck J ? <? 
Velvet Scoter ? J 



Long Tailed Duck 3 ? 
Common Scoter J $ Lp. 198. 




Merganser $ 
Goosander $ 



Smew $ ? 
Dabchick ? <? 



THE BLACK (OR COMMON) SCOTER 199 

shown the immense number of Eicler Ducks which lived on Vidoe, 
and which were now sitting on eggs or young ones, exhibiting a 
most interesting scene. The ex-governor made us go and coax 
some of the old birds, who did not on that account disturb 
themselves. Almost every little hollow place between the rocks 
is occupied with the nests of these birds, which are so numerous 
that we were obliged to walk with the greatest caution, to avoid 
trampling upon them ; but, besides this, the ex-governor has a 
number of holes cut in the smooth and sloping side of a hill in two 
rows, and in every one of these, also, there is a nest. No Norfolk 
housewife is half so solicitous after her poultry as the ex-governor 
after his Eider Ducks, which by their down and eggs afford 
him a considerable revenue ; since the former sells for three rix- 
dollars (twelve shillings) a pound. Cats and dogs are, at this season 
of the year, all banished from the island, so that nothing may 
disturb these birds.' I need scarcely add that the Eider down of 
commerce is taken from these nests, not in a pure state but mixed 
with fragments of plants. Pennant says that if the nest and eggs 
be taken ' the Duck lays again, and repeats the plucking of her 
breast, if she is robbed after that, she wUl still lay, but the drakes 
must supply the down, as her stock is now exhausted ; if her eggs 
are taken a third time, she wholly deserts the place. The quan- 
tity of down found in one nest weighs about three-quarters of an 
ounce, and may be compressed into a ball two inches in diameter, 
but on being shaken out will fill a large hat. 

The young brood take to the water immediately on being hatched. 
To effect this they are often obliged to travel a considerable distance, 
and if difficulties present themselves, insurmountable in any other 
way, the parent bird carries the young in her bUl. Once clear of the 
rocks, they are liable to no further molestation from land robbers. 
But the sea is not without its dangers, for the rapacious Black- 
backed Gull frequently attacks them, and, but for the self-devotion 
and bravery of the mother bird, would commit great havoc among 
them. At his appearance the young dive in all directions, while 
the mother counterfeits lameness to distract his attention from them 
to herself, or springs from the water and attacks the Gull until he 
is compelled to retire from the contest. 

THE BLACK (OR COMMON) SCOTER 

(EDEMIA NIGRA 

General plumage deep black ; quills dusky brown on the inner web, glossy 
grey beneath ; disk of the upper mandible orange-yellow ; protuberance 
at the base black ; no speculum on the wings. Female — general plumage 
brown of several shades ; bill without the protuberance ; nostrils, and 
a spot towards the tip, yellowish. Length eighteen inches. Eggs pale 
buff. 

This bird is well known along the eastern coast of England under 



aoo THE VELVET SCOTER 

the name of Black Duck. Although a few scattered specimens 
have been observed from time to time during summer, in most 
parts it must be considered as a winter visitant only. Being 
the only entirely black Duck which frequents our shores, it is 
distinguished among other species by its colour alone. Small 
parties of these birds may occasionally be seen on different parts 
of the coast, swimming and diving at a short distance outside the 
surf, or flying, three or four together, at an elevation of a few feet 
above the surface of the sea. Large flocks visit the sea between 
us and Holland at times. They fly rapidly in a straight line, and 
when diving remain a long time under water. Their food consists 
of mussels and other shellfish, in quest of which they often ascend 
the creeks and arms of the sea, but they are rarely seen in fresh 
water. 

The flesh of the Black Duck is said to be oily and fishy ; on this 
account it is in some Roman Catholic countries classed with fish, 
and allowed to be eaten during Lent. In some parts of the Continent, 
where it is consequently in demand, fishermen take advantage of 
its diving propensities, and spread their nets over the mussel banks 
to which they have observed that these birds resort, and capture 
them in large numbers. The nest of the Scoter is described as 
being like that of the Eider Duck, and similarly located. The female 
also covers her eggs with down from her own breast, but in smaller 
quantities. A few of this species remain to breed in the north of 
Scotland. 



THE VELVET SCOTER 

CEDEMIA FtJSCA 

General plumage velvet black ; below the eyes a white crescent ; speculum 
white ; bill orange, protuberance at the base, nostrils and edge of man- 
dibles, black ; irides and feet red, the membranes of the latter black. 
Female smaller ; upper plumage sooty brown ; under parts light grey, 
streaked and spotted with dusky brown ; between the bill and eye a 
whitish spot, and another over the ear ; bill duskj' ash ; irides brown ; 
feet dull red. Length twenty-three inches. Eggs buflE. 

The Velvet Scoter, an inhabitant of the extreme northern regions 
of Asia and Europe, appears in the British Isles as a winter visitor 
only, being sometimes seen on the eastern coast of Scotland, in 
large flocks, but not generally extending its migration to our southern 
shores except in the severest weather. It may be distinguished 
from the Common Scoter by its larger size, and yet more strikingly 
by the conspicuous white bar across the wing. 

The habits and food of the Velvet Duck differ in no material 
respect from those of the Common Scoter, or Black Duck. 



THE GOOSANDER aoi 

THE SURF SCOTER 

CEDEMIA PERSPICILLATA 

A bony protuberance on each side of the bill near the base ; no speculum ; 
general plumage black ; on the forehead and nape a patch of white ; 
bill yellow, with a square black spot on each side near the base ; irides 
white ; feet red, the membranes black. In the female the black is 
replaced by dark ash-brown, and the white by light grey ; bill dark 
olive ; feet brown, with black membranes. Length twenty inches. Eggs 
white. 

Only a few specimens of this bird have been obtained in Europe, 
and these probably had been driven eastward by storms from North 
America, where alone they are found in any numbers. In habits 
and food the Surf Scoter resembles the common species, deriving 
its name from the pertinacity with which it selects, as its feeding- 
ground, a sandy beach over wliich surf rolls. It rarely or never 
visits the salt marshes. 



THE GOOSANDER 

MERGUS MERGANSER 

Head and crest greenish black ; back black ; speculum (not barred with 
black), under parts, wing-coverts, outer scapulars, and some of the quills, 
buff ; bill red, the ridge and nail black ; feet vermilion. Length twenty- 
four to twenty-eight inches. Female and young — head and crest reddish 
brown ; breast and flanks pale buff ; upper plumage dark ash ; bill and 
feet dull red. Eggs dull white. 

The Goosander is a regular winter visitor to the shores of Great 
Britain and Ireland, frequenting bays and estuaries, but preferring 
fresh-water rivers and lakes, where it makes great havoc among 
trout and other fish. It is far more abundant in the north than 
in the south, and, according to MacgilHvray, is sometimes seen even 
in summer in the Scotch lochs. It has been known to breed in 
the outer Hebrides, and of late years in several parts of the High- 
lands, but the general summer residence of this species is much 
farther to the north, both in the eastern and western hemispheres. 
The habits of the Goosander and Merganser are so much alike that 
further detail is unnecessary. 

The females and young birds of the Goosander and Merganser 
are popularly called Dun-divers. 



20J THE SMEW 

THE RED-BREASTED MERGANSER 

MERGUS SERRATOR 

Head, crest, and neck black, with greenish reflections ; a white collar round 
the neck ; breast reddish brown, spotted with black ; near the insertion 
of the wing several white spots, edged with black ; speculum white, 
divided by two transverse black bars ; back black ; belly white, barred 
on the flanks and rump with wavy grey lines ; bill and irides red ; 
feet orange. Length twenty-two inches. Female smaller ; head and 
crest reddish brown ; breast mottled with ash and white ; upper 
plumage and flanks deep ash-colour ; speculum with one black bar ; bill 
and feet dull orange ; irides brown. Eggs whitish ash. 

This large and handsome bird is not uncommon in the estuaries 
and rivers of Great Britain, but is most frequent in the north. It 
is resident in Scotland and Ireland. The adult male is less fre- 
quently seen than females and young males, which closely resemble 
one another in size and plumage, both being inferior to the first in 
brilliancy of colouring. Their food consists of fish, especially sand- 
eels, and, when they find their way into fresh-water lakes and rivers, 
of eels and trout, which they capture by diving, and retain with ease 
by the help of their strong bills notched tburoughout like a saw. 

In birds of the first year the tuft of feathers on the head is barely 
perceptible, and there is but a slight tinge of red on the lower part 
of the neck. Most of the Mergansers which resort to our shores 
during winter visit us from high latitudes ; but a few remain to 
breed in the Scotch and Irish lakes, making their nests of dry herbage 
and moss mixed with down from their own breasts. 

The name Merganser, that is, ' Diving Goose ', has reference to 
the size of the bird and its habit of diving for its food. Its flight 
is strong and rapid, but differs somewhat from that of the Ducks, 
the neck being not stretched out to its fuU length, but slightly folded 
back. After the young are hatched the male deserts the female and 
leaves her to bring oH her brood without assistance. 



THE SMEW 

MERGUS ALBELLUS 

Crest, neck, scapulars, smaller wing-coverts, and all the under parts white ; 
cheeks and back of the head greenish black ; two crescent-shaped marks 
advancmg from the shoulders on each side to the breast black ; tail ash 
coloured ; bill and feet bluish grey, the membranes black ; irides brown. 
Length seventeen inches. Female smaller ; head and cheeks reddish 
brown ; under parts white, clouded on the brecist, flanks, and rump, with 
ash-grey ; upper plumage and tail greyish black ; wings variegated 
with black, white, and grey. Eggs whitish. 

The birds of this genus, though placed among the Anatidas, or Duck 
tribe, are so strongly marked by the conformation of the biU that 
a simple examination of the head alone will enable the student to 



THE WOOD-PIGEON OR RING DOVE 903 

distinguish either of the species from the trueDucks already described. 
On the coast of Norfolk the popular name * Smee Duck ' includes 
several kinds of Ducks, and I presume the present species ; but the 
bill, in the form of an elongated and almost cylindjical cone, with 
the edges of both mandibles furnished with saw-like teeth pointed 
backwards, cannot fail to distinguish the genus Mergns. 

The Smew, or Smee, properly so called, is a winter visitor with us, 
more impatient of cold than the Duck-tribe generally, and conse- 
quently frequenting the southern more than the northern parts of 
the island. In open weather it resorts to our rivers and fresh-water 
lakes, where it feeds on small fish and other aquatic animals, which 
it obtains by diving. In severe frosts it either flies farther south 
or repairs to tidal rivers and harbours. Though not a rare bird, it 
is sparingly distributed. It is found on many of the continental 
rivers, even those which are far distant from the sea, but is not often 
killed, as it is shy of being approached, readily takes wing, flies 
swiftly, and as a diver is most rapid and expert. It is, however, 
little sought after, for, in spite of its relationship, its strong fishy 
flavour prevents it from passing muster as a Duck. Of its nesting 
little or nothing is known. In the north of Devon it is called, 
according to Montagu, ' Vare Wigeon ', from the supposed resem- 
blance of its head to that of a ' vare ' or weasel. I have also heard 
it called the ' Weasel Duck ' in Norfolk, and on the south coast the 
' Weasel-headed'. 



ORDER COLUMBtE 

FAMILY COLUMBID.E 

THE WOOD PIGEON OR RING DOVE 

COLUMBA PALUMBUS 

Head, cheeks, neck, and upper part of the tail, bluish grey ; back and wing- 
coverts darker ; a white crescent-shaped spot on each side of the neck 
surrounded by scale-likt, feathers with green and purple reflections ; 
primaries grey towards the base, white in the middle, and dusky towards 
the extremity, with the outer web white ; tail barred with black at the 
end ; abdomen whitish ; bill orange, powdered with white at the base ; 
iris light yellow ; feet blood-red ; claws brown. Length sixteen and a 
half inches. Eggs pure white. 

Two hundred and fifty years ago the taste for keeping different 
sorts of Pigeons was as strong as it is in the present day, and the 
popular names of Runts, Croppers, Shakers, Carriers, Jacobins, 



304 THE WOOD-PIGEON OR RING DOVE 

Turbits, Barbaries, Tumblers, Horsemen, Spots, etc., modern 
though they may sound, were then applied to the very same 
varieties which are described under these names in recent Guides 
to the Poultry-yard. Many of these were of foreign origin, and 
were known at a remote period in various eastern countries, so 
that there can be no doubt that the custom of keeping tame Pigeons 
is of very ancient date. 

The Pigeons in some of their habits approach the gallinaceous 
birds, with which accordingly they are classed. They are fur- 
nished with long and powerful wings, by help of which they can 
sustain a rapid and continuous flight. They seek their food mostly 
on the ground, but do not scratch with their feet, and are more 
given to bathe in water than to flutter in a bath of dust, though 
in this habit also they not unfrequently indulge. They are fur- 
nished, moreover, with a large crop, in which the food supplied to 
their young is partially macerated and reduced to a kind of pulp 
before the latter are fed. This process is carried on more by the 
agency of the receiver than of the giver, as the young birds, instead 
of opening their mouths and allowing the food to be dropped in, 
help themselves by inserting their bills into the sides of the old 
bird's mouth. Their mode of drinking differs from that of the 
true gallinaceous birds ; they do not take short sips, lifting the 
head after every draught, but satisfy their thirst by one continuous 
immersion of the whole bill. They build their nests of a few sticks, 
and lay two white eggs. 

Some of the foreign species are distinguished by their brilliant 
plumage. Those inhabiting Britain are unmarked by gaudy tints, 
but redeemed from plaiimess by the metallic glossy lustre of their 
neck feathers. 

The Wood Dove, called also Wood Pigeon and Ring Dove, is 
the largest British species, exceeding in dimensions most varieties 
of the domestic Pigeon. The summer wanderer through a wood 
in almost any part of the country can scarcely fail to have been 
disturbed in his meditations by the sudden flapping of wings of 
some large bird, which, without uttering any note, dashes through 
the foliage of a neighbouring tree, and makes off with hurried 
flight for some distant part of the wood. Seen through the open- 
ings of the trees, its predominant tint is blue-grey, but a large patch 
of white is distinctly perceptible on each wing. It might be mis- 
taken for a hawk, so rapidly does it cleave its way through the air ; 
but birds of prey are too wary to betray their movements by the 
sound of their wings ; they, too, rather launch into the air, than 
start with a violent clapping of their pinions. A Jay might make 
a similar noise ; but when alarmed it always utters its harsh scream, 
and, if it comes in sight, may at once be distinguished by the striking 
contrast of its white and black feathers. The bird just disturbed 
can scarcely, then, be an>-thing but a Wood Dove, perhaps frigh- 



THE WOOD PIGEON OR RING DOVE 105 

tened from its nest, perhaps attending on its mate, or It may have 
been simply digesting its last meal, or waiting until sent forth 
by the cravings of hunger in quest of a new one ; for the bird, 
though exemplary as a spouse and parent, has a large crop which 
is never allowed to remain long empty. The food and habits of 
Wood Pigeons vary with the season. In spring and summer they are 
most frequently seen alone or in pairs. They then feed principally 
on the tender leaves of growing plants, and often commit great 
ravage in fields of beans and peas. Spring-sown com is attacked 
by them both in the grain and the blade, and as soon as young 
turnips have put forth their second pair of leaves, they, too, come 
in for their share of devastation. As the season advances, they visit 
the corn-fields, especially those in the vicinity of their native woods, 
preferring, above all, those parts where the corn has been laid, and 
where a neighbouring grove or thicket will afford them a ready 
retreat if disturbed. They are very partial also to oily seeds of 
all kinds, and it is said that since colza has been extensively grown 
in the south of France, Wood Pigeons have become a scourge of 
agriculture, and that consequently war is waged on them unspar- 
ingly. It has been remarked also, that they have become much 
more abundant in Scotland in consequence of ' the great increase 
in the cultivation of turnips and clover, which afford them a con- 
stant supply of food during winter, and the great increase of fir 
woods, which are their delight, both for roosting and rearing their 
young '. At the approach of autumn they assemble in small flocks, 
and resort to oak and beech woods, especially the last, where acorns 
and beech-mast, swallowed whole, afford them an abundant and 
generous diet. They are now in great demand for the table, but, 
being very cautious and shy, are difficult of approach. A good many, 
however, are shot by men and boys, who discover beforehand in 
what particular trees they roost, and, lying in ambush to await their 
arrival, fire at them as they drop in in small parties. In winter, the 
small flocks unite and form large ones. So large, indeed, are these 
sometimes in severe seasons, that it is fair to suppose that their 
numbers are considerably augmented by subsidies from colder 
climates, driven southwards perhaps by scarcity of food. In dis- 
tricts abounding in oak and beech woods, they find abundance of 
food during the greater part of the winter ; but when this supply 
is exhausted, or the ground is covered with snow, they repair once 
more to the turnip-fields, and feed on the green leaves. Hunger, 
however, does not rob them of their sh3mess, nor make them con- 
fiding ; for let a human figure appear in ever so large a field where 
a flock is feeding, the alann is at once caught and communicated 
to the v/hole party, who lose no time in displaying the white bar 
on the wing, and are soon beyond the reach of fowler and gun. 

Among the first woodland sounds of spring and the last of 
auturoin is the note of the Ring Dove, often continued for a long 



acX5 THE WOOD PIGEON OR RING DOVE 

time together, always monotonous, but never wearisome. It la 
generally considered to be tinged with melancholy, and on this 
account the bird itself is supposed to have been named the Queest 
or Cushat 

Deep toned 
The Cushat plains ; nor is her changeless plaint 
Unmusical, when with the general quire 
Of woodland harmony it softly blends. 

Grahame. 

Wordsworth celebrates it under a name generally given to the 
next species : 

I heard a Stock Dove sing or say 
His homely tale, this very day ; 
His voice was buried among trees, 
Yet to be come at by the breeze. 
It did not cease ; but cooed and cooed. 
And somewhat pensively he wooed ; 
He sang of love with quiet blending. 
Slow to begin, and never ending ; 
Of sorrows, faith, and inward glee ; 
That was the song, the song for me. 

. And again, still more happily : 

Over his own sweet voice the Stock Dove broods. 

The note may be imitated by attempting to whistle, in a very 
deep tone, the syllables ' cooe-coo-roo-o-o-o ' ; or still more closely 
by clasping the hands together, so as to form a hollow, open only 
between the second joints of the thumbs, and blowing the same 
words over the orifice. With a little practice so close an imitation 
may be produced, that a genuine cooer may be beguiled into giving 
an answer. I may add, too, that with the same natural instru- 
ment and with a greater expenditure of breath the hoot of the 
Owl may be imitated ; with a gentler effort and a quiver of the 
tongue the coo of the Turtle Dove may be nearly approached. 

The Wood Dove has never been considered to be the origin of 
the domestic Pigeon, nor will it breed in captivity. There is no 
difficulty, however, in rearing birds taken young from the nest ; 
and birds so brought up will alight with perfect confidence on the 
person of their foster nurse, and feed from his hand or mouth. 
The nest of the Wood Dove is an unsubstantial structure, com- 
posed of sticks so loosely put together that the eggs or young birds 
are sometimes visible from below. It is placed in a fork or among 
the branches of a tree ; a thick fir is preferred ; but nests are to be 
met with in ivy and thorn bushes either in a wood, coppice, or, 
more rarely, in a hedgerow. The number of eggs is always two. 
The male bird assists in the ofi&ce of incubation. 



THE STOCK DOVE J07 

THE STOCK DOVE 

COLUMBA CENAS 

Head, throat, wings, and lower parts, bluish grey ; the lower parts of the 
neck with metallic reflections, no white spots ; breast \vine-red ; a black 
spot on the two last secondaries and some of the wing-coverts ; primariea 
grey at the base, passing into dusky ; tail grey barred with black at the 
extremity, the outer feather with a white spot on the outer web near the 
base ; irides reddish brown ; bill yellow, red at the base ; feet red ; 
claws dusky. Length twelve and a half inches. Eggs white. 

The Stock Dove is by some persons supposed to be so called from 
its having been believed at one time to be the origin of the domestic 
Pigeon ; but as it bore the name before the above question was 
mooted, it is more reasonable to suppose that it derived its name 
from its habit of nestling in the stocks of trees, and not on the 
branches like the Ring Dove, nor in caves like the Rock Dove. 
Ray and WUlughby, who treat the domestic Dove as a dis- 
tinct species, gave it the name of (Enas (from the Greek oinos, 
wine), and Vinago (from the Latin vinum), from the purpled or 
wine-red hue of its breast and wings. Temminck does not hesi- 
tate to identify the domestic Pigeon with the Rock Dove, with- 
out even hinting the possibility of its having derived its origin 
from the Stock Dove. Since, therefore, the two birds have no 
marked resemblance, it may be reasonably supposed that the rela- 
tionship between them rests solely on the narrow foundation that 
there exists a wild Pigeon, popularly called a Stock Dove, and that 
the word ' stock ' has among other meanings that of ' parentage ' 
or ' origin '. Thus the name gave rise to a theory which, having 
a plausible show, was hastily assumed, and was then employed 
to prove a fact which will not bear the test of examination. 
The Stock Dove in its habits closely resembles the Ring Dove, 
from which it cannot easily be distinguished at a distance. When 
tolerably near, a sharp eye can detect the absence of the white 
patch on the wings and of the ring round the neck. Its flight is 
more rapid, and it rarely perches on a slender bough, preferring 
to alight on a main branch or stump. Its note is softer, and 
approaches that of the tame Pigeon. But the great mark of distinc- 
tion is that on which I have supposed its name to be founded ; that 
it does not build its nest among the branches of trees, but in the 
side of a stump, or other locality, where no one would even think 
of looking for a Ring Dove's nest. Yarrell states that ' in the 
open counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, this species frequently 
makes its nest in holes in the ground, generally selecting a 
rabbit's burrow'. It has greatly increased in the south of 
England of late, and it nests along the Moray and Doinock Firths. 
White, who had never seen its nest, says that it used to- be abundant 
at Sel borne ' from November to February '. Yarrell saw two old 



2o8 THE ROCK DOVE 

birds exposed for sale with Ring Doves, in London, on January 
4. It resorts in spring to the neighbourhood in which it was bred, 
as a convenient place for rearing its own young, and at the end of 
summer repairs to woods and groves better adapted for supplying 
it with its favourite food, acorns and beech-mast. There it flocks 
together with Ring Doves, vast numbers of which assemble in 
winter in some districts, and when the fowler plies his occupation, 
shares their fate. It is, however, by no means so common a bird 
as the Ring Dove at any season, nor is it so generally distributed. 
In the North it is certainly only a summer visitor ; and, on the 
other hand, it is most abundant in the south of Europe and in Africa 
during winter. 



THE ROCK DOVE 

COLUMBA LIVIA 

Plumage bluish ash, lighter on the wings ; rump white ; neck and breast 
lustrous with green and purple reflections, without a white spot ; two 
transverse black bands on the wings ; primaries and tail tipped with 
black ; rump white ; outer tail-feather white on the outer web ; irides 
pale orange ; bill black ; feet red. Length twelve and a half inches. 
Eggs white. 

The Rock Dove, though a bird of extensive range, is less generally 
known in its natural condition than either of the other British 
species. As its name imports, its favourite place of resort is the 
rocky coast ; but this it frequents, not because it has any pre- 
dilection for the seashore and its productions, but that its instincts 
teach it to make lofty rocks its stronghold, just as the natural 
impulse of the Ring Dove is to find safety in the forests. If this 
species is the original of all the numerous varieties of tame Pigeon, 
it must inhabit most countries of the eastern hemisphere ; for a 
pigeon-fancier's dove-cot, to be complete, must contain several 
sorts which were first brought from remote regions ; and we know 
that in Egypt, Phoenicia, and Persia, Pigeons had a mythological 
importance at an early date. It is said that the Pigeons which 
have established themselves in various public buildings of con- 
tinental cities, as Saint Mark at Venice, and Pont Neuf at Paris, 
are exclusively Rock Pigeons ; and I have seen it stated that they 
frequent the towers of Canterbury Cathedral ; but it is possible 
that these may be in all cases derived from tame birds escaped 
from domestication, and resuming, to a certain extent, their wild 
habits and original plumage. That they resort to ruinous edifices 
near the sea in retired districts is beyond question, as I have seen 
them flying about and alighting on the walls of an old castle in the 
island of Kerrera, near Oban, in the Western Highlands, indif- 
ferent, seemingly, whether they nestled in the lofty cliffs on the 
mainland, where they are numerous, or on the equally secure ruins 



/ - 




^^ff: 









Turtle Dove S ? 
Stock Dove $ Rock Dove $ 

Wood Pi(?eon S 



[face p. 308. 




Grouse (J 

Black Grouse J 2 



Redlegged Partridge o 
Partridge ^ 



THE TURTLE DOVE 209 

of masonry in the opposite island. That they are t^uly wild here 
there can be no doubt. Indeed, the precipitous shores of Scot- 
land, the Hebrides, and Orkneys, afford them exactly the kind 
of retreat that suits their habits ; and here among inaccessible 
rocks they build their nests and on their return from their inland 
marauding expeditions, pass their nights. Their attitudes, mode 
of flight, progression when on the ground, note, and manner of 
feeding, are the same as those of the common tame Pigeon ; and, 
as might be expected, both wild and tame birds agree in declining 
to perch on trees. 

Macgillivray, who had opportunities of watching them in their 
native haunts at all seasons, informs us that they leave their caves 
in the crags at early dawn, and, proceeding along the shore, unite with 
other parties on their way till they reach the cultivated grounds, 
where they settle in large flocks, diligently seeking for grains of 
barley and oats, seeds of wUd mustard and other weeds, picking 
up also the small snails ^ which abound in sandy pastures near the 
sea. In summer they make frequent short visits of this kind, 
returning at intervals to feed their young. In winter they form 
much larger flocks, and, making the best use of their short 
day, feed more intently, thus holding out a temptation to the 
fowler, who, if sufficiently wary, can sometimes approach near 
enough to kill a large number at a shot. They are supposed to 
pair for life ; and this, I believe, is generally the case with tame 
Pigeons. They lay two eggs, and sit for three weeks. The male 
and the female sit, alternately relieving each other. They breed 
twice a year, but the number of eggs never exceeds two. Hence 
the old Scottish saying, ' a doo's cleckin ', for a family of only two 
children — a boy and a girl. They may be distinguished from the 
other common species while flying, by showing a large patch of 
white between the back and the taU. 



THE TURTLE DOVE 

TURTUR COMMUNIS 

Head and nape ash, tinged with wine-red ; a space on the sides ot the neck 
composed of black feathers tipped with white ; neck and breast pale 
wine-red ; back ash-brown ; primaries dusky ; secondaries bluish ash ; 
scapulars and wing-coverts rust-red with a black spot in the centre of 
each feather ; abdomen and lower tail-coverts white ; tail dusky, all but 
the two middle feathers tipped with white, the outer feather edged with 
white externally ; irides yellowish red ; feet red ; bill brown. Eggs 
white. 

Nearly three thousand years ago the Turtle Dove had the dis- 
tinction of being enumerated among the pleasant things of spring : 

^ Helix ericetorum, a flattish, striped shell ; and Bulimus acuius, an oblong, 
conical shell, mottled with grey and black. 

B.b. p 



210 THE TURTLE DOVE 

' Lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone ; the flowers 
appear on the earth ; the time of the singing of birds is come, and 
the voice of the Turtle is heard in our land.' ^ Less sweetly, but 
to the same effect, sings a poet of the last century : 

The cuckoo calls aloud his wand 'ring love. 
The Turtle's moan is heard in ev'ry grove ; 
The pastures change, the warbling linnets sing. 
Prepare to welcome in the gaudy spring I 

Philips. 

There is no melody in the song of the Turtle, as it consists of a 
single note, a soft, sweet, agitated murmur, continued without 
pause for a long time, called a ' moan ' ^ both by Latin and English 
poets, not from its being suggestive of pain, but because there is 
no other word which describes it so nearly. I have already 
had occasion to remark how unsatisfactory are most of the at- 
tempts which have been made to represent the songs of birds by 
combinations of letters, but the Latin name of the Turtle-dove, 
Turtur, is a notable exception. Pronounced ' tur-r-r tur-r-r', 
it will instantly recall the note to any one who has once heard it. 
The French name also, Toiirterdle, can belong to this bird alone. 

The Turtle Dove is found in all the southern countries of Europe, 
in Palestine, and many other parts of Asia, including the islands 
south of China. In England it is a visitor in the southern and 
midland counties only, arriving in spring and remaining with us 
until the end of September. Its favourite places of resort are 
groves, belts of trees, and tall hedgerows in cultivated districts. 
Here it builds its unsubstantial nest of a few sticks, and lays two 
eggs. Its food consists of seeds of various kinds, and it has the 
discredit of resorting to fields of green wheat for the sake of feed- 
ing on the milky grain. I am doubtful whether this charge can be 
sustained. Often enough when w^alking tlirough a cornfield one 
may see two or three Turtle Doves rise suddenly from the thick 
corn with a rustle and low cry of alarm, rapidly dart away in the 
direction of the nearest grove, disappearing in the shade, all but a 
white segment of a circle, formed by the tips of their tail-feathers ; 
but on examining the spot from which they rose, I have been 
unable to detect any ears of corn rifled of their contents, though 
the ground was thickly matted with weeds, which might have 
furnished them food. I am informed by a young friend that he 
has often shot them while in the act of rising from such situations 
and has invariably found their crops distended with the green seed- 
vessels of a weed common in cornfields, the com-spurrey {Spergula 
arvensis). This being the case, the Turtle Dove is more a friend 
than an enemy to the farmer, even if it sometimes regales on ripe 

1 Cant. ii. ii, 12. 

• • Nee gemere aerii cessabit Turtur ab ulmo.' — Virgil. 
Nor shall from lofty elm the Turtle cease to moan. 



THE THREE-TOED SAND-GROUSE ail 

grain or interferes with the occupation of the gleaner. It is also 
very partial to vetches. I have met with an instance where a 
Turtle Dove paid daily visits to one particular spot, under a hedge 
in a field, and though fired at by the owner of the field many times, 
under the idea that it was a rare bird, it soon returned ; and when 
at last shot, its crop was found to be fuli of vetch seeds which had 
been accidentally spilled from a bag. 

The Turtle Dove is smaller than any of the other British Doves. 
When flying, it seems scarcely larger than a Missel Thrush ; but 
it is more slender in shape, and its wings are much longer. It beats 
its wings, too, more rapidly, and moves through the air with greater 
velocity. The tints of its plumage are more varied than in the 
other British species, but far inferior in brilliancy to many foreign 
ones. 

The Turtle Dove so frequently kept in a cage is the CoUared 
Turtle Dove {Columba fisoria), a native of India and China. This 
species is distinguished by a black crescent on the back of the neck, 
the horns of which nearly meet in front. Turtle Doves are much 
kept in Germany, owing to a strange popular superstition that 
they are more predisposed than the human species to nervous 
disorders and rheumatism, and that when any of these complaints 
visit a house, they fall on the birds rather than on their owners. 



ORDER PTEROCLETES 

FAMILY PTEROCLID^ 
THE THREE-TOED SAND-GROUSE 

Legs and toes feathered to the claws ; no hind toe. Length sixteen to 

twenty inches. 

This species was not known with us till 1859. Great flights visited 
this country in 1863, in 18S8, and in 1889 when a few pair breed 
here. 



THE CAPERCAILLIE 



ORDER GALLINtE 

FAMILY TETRAONID.^ 
THE CAPERCAILLIE 
tetrAo urogallus. 

Feathers of the throat elongated, black ; head and neck dusky ; eyes with a 
bare red skin above and a white spot below ; wings brown speckled with 
black ; breast lustrous green ; abdomen black with white spots ; rump 
and flanks marked with undulating lines of black and ash colour ; tail 
black with white spots ; beak horn white ; eyebrows naked, red, be- 
neath the eye a white spot. Length thirty-six inches. Female — a 
third smaller, barred and spotted with tawny red, black, and white ; 
throat tawny red, unspotted ; breast deep red ; tail dairk red with black 
bars, white at the tip ; bill dusky. Eggs dull yellowish white speckled 
with yellowish brown. 

The Capercaillie, Wood Grouse, or Cock of the Woods, was a rare 
bird in Scotland in Pennant's time (1769), and was found only in 
the Higlilands north of Inverness. It became extinct in the eigh- 
teenth century, but was re-introduced in 1837 in Scotland, and it 
is now common in firwoods there, especially in Perthshire. In the 
pine forests of Sweden and Norway it is stUl indigenous, but, being 
a large and beautiful bird, is much sought after, and is annually 
receding from the haunts of men. It is also found in some of the 
central countries of Europe, as Poland and the Jura mountains, 
where it is said to be rather common. It is not only an inhabitant 
of woods, but passes its time for the most part in trees, and feeds 
in great measure on the young shoots of the Scotch fir. In summei 
it adds to its dietary berries, seeds, and insects, for which it searches 
among bushes or on the ground, returning to the woods to roost. 
The male bird has obtained great celebrity for his marvellous per- 
formances when serenading the hens during the morning and even- 
ing twilight in spring. " During his play, the neck of the Caper- 
caillie is stretched out, his tail is raised and spread Uke a fan, his 
wings droop, his feathers are ruffled up, and, in short, he much 
resembles in appearance an angry Turkey Cock. He begins his 
play with a call something resembling the words peller, peller, 
peller ; these sounds he repeats at first at some little intervals, but, 
as he proceeds, they increase in rapidity, until, at last, and after 
perhaps the lapse of a moment or so, he makes a sort of gulp in 
his throat, and finishes by drawing in his breath. During the con- 
tinuance of this latter process, which only lasts a few seconds, the 
head of the Capercaillie is thrown up, his eyes are partially closed, 
and his whole appearance would denote that he is worked up into 
an agony of passion." This performance, however attractive it may 
DC to those for whose benefit it is intended, exercises a fascination 



THE BLACK GROUSE 213 

over himself which is often dangerous ; for the sportsman, well 
acquainted with the sound, is thus guided to his perch, and, shy 
though the bird is at other times, is able to get near him unper- 
ceived or unheeded, and summarily closes his performances. The 
Capercaillie hen makes her nest upon the ground, and lays from 
six to twelve eggs. She is said to sit for four weeks. The young 
keep with her until towards the approach of winter. The size of the 
full-grown bird varies considerably according to the latitude in 
which it is found. In Lapland the male weighs about nine or ten 
pounds, but in the southern provinces of Sweden as much as seven- 
teen pounds. The hen usually weighs from five to six pounds. 



THE BLACK GROUSE 

TETRAO TETRIX 

Throat-feathers not elongated ; plumage black with violet reflections ; a 
broad white band on the wings ; secondaries tipped with white ; lower tail- 
coverts white ; tail much forked, the outer feathers curved outwards. 
Eyebrows naked, vermilion ; beneath the eye a white spot. Length 
twenty-three inches. Female — smaller; head and neck rust-red baxred 
with black ; rump and tail-feathers black barred with red ; belly dusky 
brown with red and whitish bars ; tail slightly forked. Eggs dull yellow 
spotted and speckled with reddish brown. 

The Black Grouse is a native of the northern countries of Europe 
and of the mountainous districts of the central part of the Continent. 
In the south it is unknown. Of a hardier nature than the Pheasant, 
and less fastidious in its dietary, it braves the most inclement 
seasons, and is never stinted in its supply of food. Moreover, as it 
rarely wanders far from its heath-clad home, it would probably, 
if it enjoyed the privilege of insignificance, be abundant in all the 
extensive waste lands of Britain. But its large size, the excellent 
flavour of its flesh, and the excitement of the sport which it affords 
all tend to keep down its numbers, so that a moor well stocked with 
Black Grouse is a possession not to be thought lightly of by the 
highest and wealthiest. The male bird is, in sporting phraseology, 
a Black Cock, the female a Grey Hen ; and it is the etiquette of the 
field to shoot Cocks only, the Hens being left for breeding. The 
Black Cock resembles, in one of its most striking peculiarities, its 
near relative, the Capercaillie. ' During the spring ', says Mr. St. 
John, ' and also in the autumn, about the time the first hoar frosts 
are felt, I have often watched the Black Cocks in the early morning 
when they collect on some rock or height, and strut and crow with 
their ciuious note, not unlike that of a Wood Pigeon. On these 
occasions they often have most desperate battles. I have seen five 
or six Black Cocks all fighting at once ; and so violent and eager 
were they, that I approached within a few yards before they rose. 
Usually there seems to be a master-bird in these assemblages, who 



314 THE BLACK GROUSE 

takes up his position on the most elevated spot, crowing and strut- 
ting round and round with spread-out tail like a Turkey Cock, and 
his wings trailing on the ground. The hens remain quietly near 
him, whilst the smaller or younger male birds keep at a respectful 
distance, neither daring to crow, except in a subdued kind of voice, 
nor to ap})roach. If they attempt the latter, the master-bird 
dashes at the intruder, and often a short melee ensues, several others 
joining in it, but they soon return to their former respectful distance. 
I have also seen an old Black Cock crowing on a birch-tree with a 
dozen hens below it, and the younger Cocks looking on with fear 
and admiiation. It is at these times that numbers fall to the share 
of the poacher, who knows that the birds resort to the same spot 
every morning.' 

The food of these birds is abundant in quantity, and though 
simple, yet partakes of an extensive assortment of flavours. Twigs 
of the fine-leaved heath {Erica cinerea), and heather (Calluna) ; 
buds of the willow and birch ; the tender shoots of cotton-grass, 
sedge, and grass ; and whortleberries, cranberries, and crowberries, 
are the principal items of their bill of fare, varied according to the 
season. In the months of February, March and April, they do much 
mischief to plantations by destroying the tender shoots of Scotch 
and Silver Fir. ' In searching for food, the Black Grouse frequents 
the lower grounds of the less-cultivated districts, not generally 
removing far from the shelter of woods or thickets, to which it be- 
takes itself as occasion requires. It sometimes makes an excursion 
into the stubble-fields in search of the seeds of cereal plants, and in 
summer and autumn includes those of the grasses and rushes. 
While thus employed, it walks and runs among the herbage with 
considerable agility, and, when apprehensive of danger, flies off to 
a sheltered place, or settles down and remains motionless until the 
intruder passes by. It perches adroitly, and walks securely on 
the branches ; but its ordinary station is on the ground, where also 
it reposes at night. It may often, especially in spring, be seen 
on the turf-top of the low walls inclosing plantations. Its flight is 
heavy, direct, and of moderate velocity, and is capable of being 
protracted to a great distance.' ^ 

The Grey Hen constructs a rude nest of withered grass and a few 
twigs in the shelter of some low bush, and lays from five to ten eggs. 
The male bird takes no part in the bringing up of the brood, but 
leaves the duties of incubation and attention to the wants of his 
family to the hen, who devotes herself wholly to the careful nurture 
of her little ones. While the poults are in their nonage, she assidu- 
ously leads them about where food is most abundant ; and if sur- 
prised by an intruder, leaves them to hide among the heath and 
ferns, creeps rapidly herself to some distance, and then rises in a 
fluttering manner, so that a stranger to her habits would suppose 

* Macgillivriy. 



THE RELr GROUSE ai5 

her to be wounded. By August 20, the young are supposed to be 
fully Hedged, and the sportsman is expected not only to show his 
skill as a marksman, but his quickness of eye in discriminating 
between males and females as the covey rises. The former are to be 
distinguished by their richer colouring, and by the more strongly 
marked white on the wings. At this season the old Black Cocks 
club together. 

The Black Cock is found in greater or less quantities in the moor- 
land districts of many of the English counties, but is most abun- 
dant in the north of England and Wales, and in Scotland. 



THE RED GROUSE 

lag6pus scoticus 

Plumage chestnut brown, marked on the back with black spots and beneath 
wth black lines ; a fringe of small white feathers round the eyes, and a 
white spot at the base of the lower mandible ; a crimson fringed band 
above the eyes ; some of the feathers of the abdomen tipped with white ; 
tail of sixteen feathers, the four middle ones chestnut with black bars, 
the rest dusky ; feet and toes covered thickly with grey hair-like feathers. 
Female— the red eye-lid less conspicuous ; colours not so dark and tinged 
with reddish yellow, the black spots and lines more numerous. Length 
sixteen inches. Eggs reddish ash colour, nearly covered with blotches 
and spots of deep red-brown. 

The diminution of the number of Pheasants in France, owing to a 
relaxation of the efforts formerly made to protect them, and the 
abundance of the same birds, in those parts of England where un- 
ceasing care is taken of them in severe or protracted winters, tend 
to prove the great difficulty of preserving a foreign bird in a country 
which is not in every respect adapted to its habits and constitution. 
On the other hand, the undiminished abundance of Red Grouse in 
Great Britain, in spite of the absence of all artificial protection, and 
notwithstanding the vast quantity which annually fall a prey to 
vermin, poachers, and sportsmen, proves as satisfactorily that 
where a bird has become abundant, in a country in all respects suited 
to its constitution and producing an inexhaustible supply of its 
natural food, it is impossible to extirpate it. If we ever had occasion 
to adopt a bird as a national emblem, the choice might for one 
reason fall on the Red Grouse. It is a native of the British Isles, 
and is found in no other country. On the moors of Scotland, the 
hilly parts of the north of England, the mountains of Wales, and 
the wastes of Ireland, it is as wild and free as the Gull on the sea- 
cliff. It frequents extensive heaths where man could not protect 
it if he would, and finds no stint of food where few living things can 
exist but insects and some of the larger rapacious animals which 
make it their special prey. Eagles, Falcons, Buzzards, Crows, 
Foxes, Martins, and Polecats, all wage against it incessant war ; it 



ai6 THE RED GROUSE 

is wholly without armour, offensive or defensive ; yet its numbers 
are undiminished. And we may confidently say that, as long as 
there are large tracts of land in Great Britain unreclaimed, there 
wiJl be Grouse. 

Red Grouse must, occasionally, fall in the way of the wanderer 
over the Scottish moors, whatever may be the object of his rambles ; 
but a sportsman alone is privileged to make the bird his study at 
all seasons. My sketch, therefore, of the Grouse is to be considered 
as taken, not from the limited observation which I have been enabled 
to make, when I have chanced to start a bird on the hills of West- 
moreland or the Higlilands, but to be compiled from the notes of 
others who have had more ample means of observing its habits. 

' ' The Brown Ptarmigan, generally known by the name of Red 
Grouse, as compared with the Black Grouse, is met with in Scotland 
on all kinds of surface, provided it be covered with heath, whether 
Calluna vulgaris (Ling) or Erica cinerea (Common Purple Heath), 
from the level of the sea to the height of about two thousand feet. 
The low sandy heaths of the eastern counties of the middle division 
appear to be less favourable to it than the more moist peaty tracts 
of the western and northern districts, where the shrubs on which 
it feeds attain a great size." 

Its food appears to be much the same as that of the Black Grouse, 
to which it is similar in many of its habits ; but it never perches 
on trees. It has, moreover, a decided predilection for the national 
grain of Scotland. Hence the cultivation of small tracts of land 
with oats in ihf^ neighbourhood of moors where it abounds is an 
unprofitable labour. 

Its name, Lagopus (Hare-footed), is equally appropriate as descrip- 
tive of its thickly-clothed foot an . its fieetness as a runner ; by some 
French ornithologists it is enumerated among Velocipedes, for the 
latter reason. On ordinary occasions it does not fly much, but keeps 
concealed among the heath, seldom choosing to rise unless its enemy 
comes very near. Red Grouse pair early in the season, and build 
their nests generally on the borders between heath and lea groimd, 
with a view to providing their young with an open nursery-ground, 
on which to learn the use of their legs, as well as a safe retreat on 
the approach of danger. The nest is loosely constructed of straws 
and twigs which may chance to he about near the selected spot. 
The number of eggs is usually eight to ten ; the hen sits very closely, 
allowing the shepherd almost to trample on her before she springs. 
The period of hatching is a perilous one for the chicks, for, as they 
break the shell, they utter a small but shrill chirp — a certain signal 
to some watchful Hooded Crow that a prey is at hand ; he traces up 
the sound, drives the mother from her nest, and destroys the whole 
brood. 

Once fairly hatched, the danger decreases ; the young birds, 
while still quite small, show great readiness in concealing themselves. 



THE PTARMIGAN 217 

When disturbed they separate in all directions, crouch on the ground, 
squeeze between objects that seera to defy all passage, work their 
way through the cover, or, if they fancy that an eye is fixed on them, 
lie as motionless as stones When so far grown as to be able to 
fly, they still prefer the shelter afforded by the cover ; but if hard 
pressed the old cock usually rises first, with a cry which some com- 
pare to the quack of a Duck. The hen and young birds show no 
hurry in following his example, but take wing singly, and at unequal 
intervals — not hke Partridges, which always rise in a covey. This 
is the period when they afford the easiest shot to the sportsman, 
who often puts them up almost beneath his feet, or under the very 
nose of his dogs. Later in the season a great change takes place, 
and this, it is said, whether the birds have been much harassed or 
not. Become cautious and wild, they no longer trust to conceal- 
ment or swiftness of foot, but, discovering from a great distance 
the approach of danger, they rise most frequently out of shot, so 
that it requires skill and patience to get near them. A slight and 
early snow sometimes makes it more easy to approach them, at 
least for a few hours ; but ordinarily, not even extreme cold, or 
a covering of snow a foot thick, appears to tame them at all. Under 
such circumstances, they collect in enormous ' packs ', and betake 
themselves to some particular part of the moor from which the 
snow has been more or less drifted. These packs keep together 
during winter, and at the beginning of spring separate and pair, 
not, however, without some previous altercations ; but these are 
soon over, and they lose much of theh shyness, venturing close to 
the roads, and being little disturbed by the passage of the traveller. 



THE PTARMIGAN 

LAGOPUS MUTUS 

Winter plumage—pure white, a black line from the angle of the beak through 
the eye ; outer tail-feathers black ; above the eyes a scarlet fringed 
membrane ; bill and claws black ; tarsi and toes thickly clothed with 
woolly feathers. Female — without the black line through the eyes. 
Summer plumage — wings, under tail-coverts, two middle tail-feathers, 
and legs white ; outer tail-feathers black, some of them tipped with 
white ; rest of plumage ash-brown, marked with black lines and dusky 
spots. Length fifteen inches. Eggs reddish yellow, spotted and speckled 
with deep reddish brown. 

This beautiful bird is the Schneehuhn, ' Snow-chick ', of the Ger- 
mans, the White Partridge of the Alps and P5a-enees, and the Gaelic 
Tarmachan. Whilst most bu-ds shrink from cold, the Ptarmigan, 
on the contrary, seems to revel in it, and to fear nothing so much 
as the beams of the sun. Not even when the valleys rejoice in the 
livery of spring does it desert the snowy regions altogether, and, 
when the mist-wreaths clear away, it avoids the rays of the sun by 



2i8 THE PTARMIGAN 

seeking the shady sides of the mountains. Only when the northern 

regions or lofty mountains are so thickly covered with snow as to 
threaten it with starvation does it repair to districts where the cold 
is somewhat mitigated, but never lower into the valleys than where 
it may quench its thirst with snow. ' The male bird ', says a field 
naturalist, ' has been seen, during a snow-storm in Norway, to 
perch himself on a rock which overtopped the rest, and to sit 
there for some time as if enjoying the cold wind and sleet, which 
was drifting in his face ; just as one might have done on a sultry 
summer's day on the top of the Wiltshire downs, when a cool air 
was stirring there.' ^ The same writer observes : " I have generally 
found the Ptarmigan concealed among the grey, lichen-coloured 
rocks on the summits of the fjelds, and so closely do they resemble 
these rocks in colour that I could scarcely ever see them on the 
ground ; and sometimes when the practised eye of my guide found 
them, and he would point out the exact spot, it was not until after 
a long scrutiny that I could distinguish the bird within a dozen 
yards of me. Frequently we would find them on the snow itself, 
and many a time has a large circular depression in the snow been 
pointed out to me, where the Ptarmigan has been lying and pluming 
himself in his chilly bed. He is a noble bird, free as air, and for the 
most part uninterrupted in his wide domain ; he can range over the 
enormous tracts of fjeld, seldom roused by a human step, and still 
more seldom hunted by man. When the winter clothes his dwelling 
in a garb of snow, he arrays himself in the purest and most beautiful 
white ; when the summer sun melts away the snow, and the grey 
rocks appear, he, too, puts on his coloured dress, and assimilates 
himself once more to his beloved rocks. But the young Ptarmigans 
are my especial favourites : I have caught them of all ages ; some 
apparently just emerged from the egg, others some weeks older ; 
they are remarkably pretty little birds, with their short black beaks 
and their feathered toes ; and so quickly do they run, and so nimble 
and active are they in escaping from you, that they are soon beneath 
some projecting stone, far beyond the reach of your arm, where you 
hear them chirping and calling out in defiance and derision. The 
call of the old Ptarmigan is singularly loud and hoarse ; it is a pro- 
longed grating, harsh note, and may be heard at a great distance.' 
This has been compared to the scream of the Missel Thrush ; but 
Macgillivray says it seems to him more like the croak of a frog. 

Ptarmigans pair early in spring, and build their nest of grass, 
bents and twigs in a slight hollow behind a stone or bush, and lay 
from seven to twelve eggs. The young are able to run about as 
soon as they are hatched, and, as we have seen, are most expert 
and nimble in concealing themselves. The hen bird when surprised 
with her young brood counterfeits lameness, and runs about in 

' R«>v. A. C. Smith, in the Zoologist, vol. viii, p. 2977. 



THE PHEASANT 219 

great anxiety, as if wishing to draw attention from her chicks to 
herself. Their food consists of the fresh green twigs of heath and 
other mountain plants, seeds, and berries. While feeding they 
run about, and are shy in taking flight even when they have acquired 
the use of their wings, but crouch on the approach of danger, and 
remain motionless and silent. When at length they do rise, they 
fly off in a loose party, and mostly in a direct line, for a distant 
part of the mountain, the movement of their wings resembling that 
of the Grouse, but being lighter in character. Early in the season, 
a long time before Grouse, the coveys of Ptarmigans unite and 
form large packs, and it is while thus congregated that they per- 
form their partial migrations from the high grounds to what they 
consider a milder climate, the Norwegian valleys. There, while 
the ground is covered thickly with snow, they, to a certain extent, 
modify their habits, and perch on trees, sometimes in such numbers 
that the branches seem to be altogether clothed in white. It does 
not appear that any of these flocks make long journeys or cross 
the sea. In Scotland they are no more numerous in winter than in 
summer, nor have they been observed to take refuge in the woods. 
In the comparatively mUd temperature of Scotland there occurs no 
lengthened period during which they cannot find their simple food 
somewhere in the open country ; they consequently do not leave 
the moors, but only descend lower. 

The Ptarmigan is neither so abundant nor so generally diffused 
in Scotland as the Grouse. It is resident on high mountains. It is 
said to have existed at one time in the north of England and in 
Wales ; if so, it has totally disappeared, nor is it known in Ireland. 



FAMILY PHASIANIDiE 
THE PHEASANT 

PHASIANUS COLCHICUS 

Head and neck glossy, with metallic reflections of green, blue, and purple • 
sides of the head bare, scarlet, minutely speckled with black ; general 
plumage spotted and banded with orange-red, purple, brown, yellow, 
green, and black, either positive or reflected ; tail very long, of eighteen 
feathers, the middle ones longest. Female — light brown, marked with 
dusky ; sides of the head feathered ; tail much shorter. Length three 
feet. Eggs olive-brown. 

This climate suits the Pheasant pretty well, and at most seasons of 
the year it finds abundance of food ; but in hard winters the supply 
diminishes, or fails altogether ; and were not food specially scat- 
tered about for it in its haunts, it would either die ofE from being 



230 Tim PHEASANT 

unable to withstand cold and hunger together, or become so weak 
that it would fall a prey to the smaller rapacious animals, who are 
not a match for it when it is strong and active. A healthy cock 
Pheasant has been known to beat oil a cat ; a sickly one would be 
unable to compete with a Magpie or Jay. It is, in fact, an exotic 
running wild, and enabled to do so only by the care of those who 
help it to surmount the inconveniences of a life spent in a foreign 
land. 

The Pheasant is said to have been brought originally from Colchis, 
a country on the shores of the Black Sea, and to have derived its 
name from the river Phasis, the famous scene of the expedition of 
the Argonauts, bearing date about 1200 years before Christ. From 
this epoch it is said to have been known to the Athenians, who 
endeavoured to acclimatize it for the sake of its beauty as well as 
the delicacy of its flesh. The Romans received it from the Greeks ; 
but it was little known, except by name, in Germany, France, and 
England, until the Crusades. The custom was then introduced 
from Constantinople of sending it to table decorated with its tail 
feathers and head, as a dish for kings and emperors — a special honour 
until that time confined to the Peacock. Willughby, in the seven- 
teenth century, says of it that, from its rarity, delicacy of flavour, 
and great tenderness, it seems to have been created for the tables 
of the wealthy. He tells us, too, that the flesh of Pheasants caught 
by hawking is of a higher flavour, and 5'et more delicate than when 
they are taken by snares or any other met hod. 

The kings of France greatly encouraged the naturalization of the 
Pheasants in the royal forests, both as an object of sport and as an 
acquisition to the festive board, and were imitated by the nobles 
and superior clergy. In the fourteenth century, all the royal forests, 
the parks of Berry and the Loire, all the woods and vineyards of the 
rich abbeys, were peopled with Pheasants. The male bird was 
protected by the tiUe of ' Royal game of the first class ', and the 
killing of a hen was forbidden under the severest penalties. During 
the period between the reigns of Henry IV and Louis XVI its 
estimation increased. During the revolution royal edicts were little 
heeded. Pheasants, no less than their owners, forfeited their dig- 
nity, which, however, rose again somewhat under the empire. 
Waterloo, and succeeding events, brought desolation to the Phea- 
santries as well as to the deer-parks of France ; and now the royal 
bird, French authors tell us, is likely to disappear from the country. 
Already, the space which it occupies is reduced to a thdrtieth part of 
the national territory. The centre of this privileged province is 
Paris ; its radius is not more than five-and-twenty leagues, and is 
decreasing every year. Pheasants have disappeared from the dis- 
tricts of the Garonne and Rhone, while in Touraine and Berry a few 
only are to be found in walled parks. 

If the Pheasant should ever, in this country, lose the protection of 




Pheasant t? 



Great Bustard c? 

Nightjar c? 



Capercaille $ 



[face}}. 220. 






/ 







Quail. 

Three toed Sandgrouse, S ? 



Pratincole. 

Ptarmigan 



THE PHEASANT SSI 

the Game Laws, it will probably dwindle away in like manner. 
Under existing circumstances, it offers an inducement to poaching 
too tempting to be resisted. Gamekeepers engage in more affrays 
with poachers of Pheasants than of all the other game birds taken 
collectively ; and if the offence of destroying them were made less 
penal than it is at present, they would doubtless diminish rapidly. 
Next to Wood Pigeons, they are said to be the most destructive of 
all British birds ; so that farmers would gladly do their utmost to 
exterminate them ; their large size and steady onward flight com- 
bine to make them an ' easy shot ' for the veriest tyro in gunnery, 
wliile the estimation in which they are held for the table would 
always secure for them a value in the market. 

The places best adapted for Pheasants are thick woods in the 
neighbourhood of water, where there is abundance of shelter on the 
ground, in the shape of furze-bushes, brambles, tall weeds, rushes, 
or tussock grass ; for they pass their lives almost exclusively on the 
ground, even roosting there, except in winter, when they fly up in 
the evening, and perch on the lower boughs of middling-sized trees. 
In April or May, the female bird scratches for herself a shallow hole 
in the ground under the shelter of some bushes or long grass, and 
lays from ten to fourteen eggs ; but not unfrequently she allows 
might to prevail over right, and appropriates both the nest and eggs 
belonging to some evicted Partridge. The situation of the nests 
is generally known to the keepers, and aU that are considered safe 
are left to be attended to by the owner. Such, however, as are 
exposed to the depredations of vermin or poachers are more fre- 
quently taken, and the eggs are placed under a domestic hen. 

Pheasant chicks are able to run about and pick up their own food 
soon after they have escaped from the egg. This consists of grain, 
seeds, an enormous quantity of wireworms, small insects, especially 
ants and their eggs, and green herbage. When full grown, they add 
to this diet beans, peas, acorns, beech-mast, and the tuberous roots 
of several wUd plants. A strip of buck-wheat, of which they are 
very fond, is sometimes sown for their special benefit along the skirt 
of a plantation. In seasons of scarcity they will enter the farmyard, 
and either quietly feed with the poultry, or, less frequently, do 
battle with the cocks for the sovereignty. A story is told, in the 
Zoologist, of a male Pheasant, which drove from their perch, and 
killed in succession, three fine cocks. The proprietor, with a view 
to prevent further loss, furnished a fourth cock with a pair of steel 
spurs. Armed with these, the lawful occupant was more than a 
match for the aggressor, who, next morning, was found lying dead 
on the ground beneath the perch. Another has been known to 
beat off a cat ; and a third was in the habit of attacking a labouring 
man. The female is a timid, unoffending bird, as peaceful in her 
demeanoiu: as quiet in her garb. The tints of her plumage, far less 
gaudy than in the male, are a protection to her in the nesting season. 



22a THE COMMON PARTRIDGE 

as being less likely to attract the notice either of poachers or vermin. 
Indeed, were she always to lie close, her nest would not be easily 
discovered, for the colour of her feathers so closely resembles that of 
withered leaves, that she is, when sitting, less conspicuous than her 
uncovered eggs would be. 

Common Pheasants are occasionally found having a large portion 
or even the whole, of their plumage white. These, though highly 
ornamental when mixed with the common sort, are not prized, 
owing to their being a more conspicuous mark for poachers. The 
' Ringed Pheasant ' occasionally shot in English preserves is not, 
as some maintain, a distinct species ; it differs from the typical 
form of the bird only in that the neck is partially surrounded by a 
narrow white collar passing from the back of the neck to the sides, 
but not meeting in front. 



THE COMMON PARTRIDGE. 

PERDIX CINEREA 

Face, eyebrows, and throat, bright rust-red ; behind the eye a naked red skin ; 
neck, breast, and flanks, ash colour with black zigzag lines, and on the 
feathers of the flanks a large rust-red spot ; low on the breast a chestnut 
patch shaped like a horseshoe ; upper parts ash-brown with black spots 
and zigzag lines ; scapulars and wing-coverts darker ; quills brown, 
barred and spotted with yellowish red ; tail of eighteen feathers, the 
laterals bright rust-red ; beak olive-brown ; feet grey. Female — less 
red on the face ; head spotted with white ; upper plumage darker, 
spotted with black ; the horseshoe mark indistinct or wanting. Length 
thirteen inches. Eggs uniform olive-brown. 

Very few, even of our common birds, are more generally known 
than the Partridge. From the first of September to the first of Febru- 
ary, in large towns, every poulterer's shop is pretty sure to be de- 
corated with a goodly array of these birds ; and there are few rural 
districts in which a walk through the fields will fail to be enlivened 
by the sudden rising and whirring away of a covey of Partridges, 
in autumn and winter ; of a pair in spring. At midsummer they 
are of less frequent appearance, the female being too busily 
occupied, either in incubation or the training of her family, to find 
time for flight ; and at this season, moreover, the uncut fields of 
hay, clover, and corn afford facilities for the avoiding of danger, by 
concealment rather than by flight. The habits of the Partridge, 
as of the Grouse, are especially terrestrial. It never flies, like the 
Lark, for enjoyment ; and as it does not perch in trees it has 
no occasion for upward flight. Still, there are occasions when 
Partridges rise to a considerable distance from the ground, and this 
seems to be when they meditate a longer flight than usual. 

A friend, to whom I am indebted for many valuable notes on 
various birds, tells me that when a covey of Partridges are disturbed 



THE COMMON PARTRIDC3 *2$ 

by a pack of hounds, they lie close at first, as if terrified by the noise 
and bent on concealing themselves ; but when the pack actually 
comes on them they rise to a great height, and fly to a distance 
which may be measured by miles — at least, so he supposes, as he 
has watched them diminish and fade from the sight before they 
showed any sign of preparing to alight. 

The Partridge, though decorated with no brilliant colours, which 
would tend to thwart it in its habit of concealing itself among vegeta- 
tion of the same general hue as itself, is a beautiful bird. Its gait is 
graceful, its feet small and light, its head well raised ; and its plum- 
age, though devoid of striking contrasts, is exquisitely pencilled, 
each feather on the back and breast being veined like the gauzy 
wings of a fly. The most conspicuous part of the plumage of the 
male bird, the horseshoe on its breast, is invisible as it walks or 
crouches, and the general tone approaches that of the soil. 

Partridges pair early in the year ; but the hen does not begin to 
lay until May, nor to sit until towards the beginning of June. The 
nest is merely a depression in the ground, into which a few straws 
or dead leaves have been drawn. It is sometimes placed among 
brushwood under a hedge, but more frequently in the border of a 
field of hay, clover, or corn, or in the wide field itself. The mowing 
season, unfortunately, is not noted in the calendar of Nature ; so 
the mother-bird, who is a close sitter, is not unfrequently destroyed 
by the scythe, or, at all events, is driven away, and returns to find 
her eggs carried off to be entrusted to the care of a domestic hen. 
In unusually wet seasons, nests which have been fixed in low 
situations are flooded, and the eggs being thus reduced to a low 
temperature become addle. When this has taken place, the 
Partridge makes a second laying, and a late brood is reared. 

Notwithstanding this, however, Partridges are exceedingly pro- 
lific, and are said to be increasing in numbers in proportion as new 
lands are reclaimed from the waste, although the Red-legged Part- 
ridge has lessened its numbers in some districts. It must certainly 
be admitted that, in bad seasons, they are treated with a considera- 
tion that would scarcely be shown towards them if they were sirnply 
destroyers of grain and had nothing to recommend them as objects 
of sport or as delicacies for the table. When abundant, they faU 
freely before the sportsman's gun ; but when the coveys are either 
small or few, they are treated with forbearance, and enough are left 
to stock the preserves for the ensuing year. 

While the hen is sitting, the male bird remains somewhere in the 
neighbourhood, and gives timely warning of the approach of danger ; 
when the eggs are hatched, he accompanies his mate, and shares in 
the work of teaching the young to shift for themselves — a lesson 
which they begin to learn at once. The food both of old and young 
birds is, to a great extent, insects. The young are especially fond 
of ants and their pupae or larvae. During the year i860, in which 



t24 THE COMMON PARTRIDGE 

there were no broods of Partridges, I was much struck by the fact 
that stubble-fields abounded, to an unusual degree, with ant-hills. 
In ordinary seasons, these are found torn to pieces and levelled. 
This year, scarcely one was touched ; and even at the present time, 
the end of October, winged ants are far more numerous than they 
usually are at this time of the year. Besides insects. Partridges 
feed on the seeds of weeds, green leaves, grain spilt in reaping, and 
on com which has been sown. This last charge is a serious one ; 
yet, on the whole, it is most probable that Partridges do far more 
good than harm on an estate, the insects and weeds which they 
destroy more than making amends for their consumption of seed- 
corn. 

I might fill many pages with anecdotes of the devotion of Part- 
ridges to their maternal duties — their assiduity in hatching theii 
eggs, their disregard of personal danger while thus employed, theii 
loving trickeries to divert the attention of enemies from their broods 
to themselves, and even the actual removal of their eggs from a 
suspectedly dangerous position to a place of safety ; but with many 
of these stories the reader must be already familiar if he has read 
any of the works devoted to such subjects. 

The number of eggs laid before incubation commences varies from 
ten to fifteen, or more, Yarrell says, * Twenty-eight eggs in one 
Instance, and thirty-three eggs in two other instances, are recorded 
as having been found in one nest ; but there is little doubt, in these 
cases, that more than one bird had laid eggs in the same nest.' 
This may be ; but I find in a French author an instance in which 
no less than forty-two eggs were laid by a Partridge in captivity, all 
of which, being placed under a hen, would have produced chicks, 
but for the occurrence of a thunder-storm accompanied by a deluge 
of rain which flooded the nest, when the eggs, which all contained 
chicks, were on the point of being hatched. The average number 
of birds in a covey is, I believe, about twelve ; quite enough to 
supply the sportsmen and to account for the abundance of the bird. 

The character of the Partridge's flight is familiar to most people. 
Simultaneously with the startled cry of alarm from the cock comes 
a loud whirr-r-r as of a spinning-wheel : away fly the whole party in 
a body, keeping a horizontal, nearly straight line : in ttums each 
bird ceases to beat its wings and sails on for a few yards with 
extended pinions ; the impetus exhausted which carried it through 
this movement, it plies its wings again, and if it have so long escaped 
the fowler, may, by this time, consider itself out of danger, for its 
fhght, though laboured, is tolerably rapid. 

The call of the Partridge is mostly uttered in the evening, as soon 
as the beetles begin to buzz. The birds are now proceeding to 
roost, which they always do in the open field, the covey forming a 
circle with their heads outwards, to be on the watch against their 
enemies, of whom they have many. They feed for the most part 



THE RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE 225 

in the morning and middle of the day, and vary in size according 
to the abundance of their favourite food. In some districts of 
France, it is said, the weight ot the Partridges found on an estate is 
considered as a fair standard test of the productiveness of the soil 
and of the state of agricultural skill. 

Most people are familiar with the distich : 

If the Partridge had the Woodcock's thigh. 
It ■would be the best bird that e'er did fiie ; 

but every one does not know that the saying was in vogue among 
epicures in the reign of Charles II. 



THE RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE 

CACCABIS RUFA 

Throat- and cheeks white, surrounded bj' a black band, which spreads itself 
out over the breast and sides of the neck in the form of numerous spots 
and lines, with which are intermixed a few white spots ; upper plumaga 
reddish ash ; on the flanks a number of crescent-shaped spots, the con- 
vexity towards the tail rust-red, the centre black, bordered by white ; 
beak, orbits, and feet, bright red. Length thirteen and a half inches. 
Eggs dull yellow, spotted and speckled with reddish brown and ash 
colour. 

The Red-legged Partridge, called also the French and Guernsey 
Partridge, is a stronger and more robust bird than the common 
species, which it also greatly surpasses in brilliancy of colouring. 
As some of its names indicate, it is not an indigenous bird, but a 
native of the south of Europe, whence it was first introduced into 
England in the reign of Charles II. To Willughby, who lived at 
that period, it was unknown except as a native of the continent of 
Europe and the islands of Guernsey and Jersey. Towards the close 
of the last century it was re-introduced into Sufiolk, where it has 
become numerous ; so much so, indeed, in some places, as to have 
gained the better of the common species for a time. 

Its flight is rapid, but heavier and more noisy than that of the 
Common Partridge. It is less patient of cold, and less able to elude 
the attacks of birds of prey. It is quite a terrestrial bird, very slow 
in taking flight, and never perching except when hard pressed, when, 
on rare occasions, it takes refuge among the thick branches of an 
oak or pinaster ; here it considers itself safe, and watches the move- 
ments of the dogs with apparent unconcern. Sometimes, too, when 
closely hunted, it takes shelter in a rabbit's burrow or the hole of a 
tree ; but under ordinary circumstances it runs rapidly before the 
dogs, and frequently disappoints the sportsman by rising out of shot. 
The Grey or Common Partridge frequents rich cultivated lands ; the 
Red Partridge prefers uncultivated plains, ' which summer converts 
into burning causewa}^, winter into pools of water — ^monotonous 
landes, where skeletons of sheep pasture wit iiuut variation on heath 

B.B. Q 



226 THE QUAIL 

and the dwarf prickly genista. It delights, too, In bushy ravines, 
or the steep sides of rocky hills covered with holly, thorns, and 
brambles ; and when it resorts to vineyards, it selects those situated 
on the sides of steep slopes, where marigolds and coltsfoot are the 
principal weeds, rabbits and vipers the most abundant animals.' ^ 
Red Partridges are consequently most numerous in the least culti- 
vated districts of France, especially those between the Cher and the 
Loire, and between the Loire and the Seine. Towards the east they 
do not extend beyond the hills of Epernay, and do not cross the 
valley of the Meuse. The flesh of the Red Partridge is considered 
inferior to that of the Grey, and the bird itself is less esteemed by 
sportsmen as an object of pursuit. In England it seems to retain 
its natural taste of preferring bushy heaths to inclosed land. In 
the mode of incubation and rearing the young the two species are 
much alike. 



THE QUAIL. 

COTURNIX COMMUNIS 

'This species', says a French naturalist, 'is probably the most 
productive of all winged creatures ; and it could not well be other- 
wise, or it would be unable to withstand the war of extermination 
declared against it by human beings and birds of prey. One may 
get an idea of the prodigious number of victims which the simple 
crossing of the Mediterranean costs the species by two well-known 
and often quoted facts. The Bishop of Capri, a wretched islet 
scarcely a league in length, which lies at the entrance of the Bay 
of Naples, used to clear a net revenue of 25,000 francs a year (^fi.ooo) 
by his Quails. This sum represents 160,000 Quails at the lowest 
computation. In certain islands of the Archipelago, and parts of 
the coast of the Peloponnese, the inhabitants, men and women, 
have no other occupation during two months of the year than that 
of collecting the Quails which are showered on them from heaven, 
picking and cleaning them, salting them (' they spread them all 
abroad for themselves ') and pacldng them away in casks for trans- 
portation to the principal markets of the Levant ; that is to say, 
the migration of Quails is to this part of Greece what the migration 
of herrings is to Holland and Scotland. The QuaU-catchers arrive 
at the shore a fortnight in advance, and every man numbers his 
ground to avoid disputes. The Quail arrives in France from Africa 
early in May, and takes its departure towards the end of August.' 
Another French author says, ' Like Rails, Woodcocks, Snipes, and 
many of the waders, the Quail, when it travels towards the seashore, 
flies only in the night. It leaves the lands, where it has passed the 
day, about the dusk of the evening, and settles again with the dawn 

* Toussenei, 



THE QUAIL 227 

of the morning.' Not unfrequently, while performing their transit, 
they become weary, and alight on vessels, or fall into the sea, and 
are drowned. * Being at a small town on the coast, in the month of 
May ', says M. PeUicot, ' I saw some boats come in with ten or a dozen 
sharks. They were all opened before me, and there was not one 
which had not from eight to twelve Quails in its body.' ' Enormous 
flights are annually observed at the spring and fall, after crossing an 
immense surface of sea, to take a brief repose in the islands of Malta, 
Sicily, Sardinia, Crete, in the kingdom of Naples, and about Con- 
stantinople, where, on these occasions, there is a general shooting 
match, which lasts two or three days. This occurs always in the 
autumn. The birds, starting from the Crimea about seven at night, 
and with a northerly wind, before dawn accomplish a passage of 
above sixty leagues in breadth, and alight on the southern shore to 
feed and repose. In the vernal season the direction of the flight is 
reversed, and they arrive in similar condition on the Russian coast. 
The same phenomena occur in Malta, etc' ^ 

On its arrival, the Quail betakes itself to open plains and rich 
grassy meadows, especially where the soil is calcareous, and avoids 
woody countries. During the early part of summer it frequents 
cornfields, saintfoin, and lucem. In September it is found in stubble 
and clover fields, and among the weeds growing in dry ponds, or it 
finds shelter in any crops which may yet remain standing. In warm 
countries it resorts to vineyards, attracted, it is said, not so much 
by the grapes as by the numerous small snails with which the vines 
are then infested ; for the crops of the late birds are generally found 
filled with these molluscs. In locomotion it makes more use of its 
feet than its wings, and when put up is never induced to perch on a 
tree. Its flight resembles in character that of the Partridge, but it 
rarely flies far, and when it alights makes awkward attempts to 
conceal itself, but often fails, and may sometimes be captured with 
the hand. In June or July, the female lays from eight to fourteen 
eggs in a hole in the ground, and brings up her young without the 
assistance of the male. Towards the end of August the old birds 
migrate southwards, and are followed by the young. Before the 
end of October all have disappeared, though instances have occurred 
of their being shot during winter, especially in seasons when the 
harvest has been a late one. 

The flesh of the Quail is considered a great delicacy, and many 
thousands are caught, imported to the London markets, for the table. 
They are placed in low flat cages, scarcely exceeding in height the 
stature of the bird, for the reason that in confinement, the birds, 
in their effort to escape, would beat themselves against the upper 
bars, and destroy themselves. These are said to be aU old males. 

Quails inhabit the eastern continent, from China — ^where they 

» Colonel C. H. Smith. 



238 LAND RAIL OR CORN CRAKE 

are said to be carried about in winter by the natives, to keep their 
hands warm — to the British Isles. With us they are nowhere 
plentiful, but are occasionally shot by sportsmen in most parts of 
the country. In cornfields, on the shores of Belfast Lough, in the 
north of Ireland, they are of frequent occurrence. 

In Palestine the Quails still come up in the night, as of old, and 
" cover the land," 



ORDER FULICARIiE 

FAMILY RALLID.E 
LAND RAIL, OR CORN CRAKE 

CREX PRATENSIS 

Upper feathers dusky brown bordered with reddish ash ; over the eye and 
down the side of the head, a streak of ash ; wing-coverts rust-red ; quills 
reddish brown ; throat, belly, and abdomen, whitish ; breast pale 
yellowish brown ; flanks barred with white and rust-red ; upper man- 
dible brown, lower whitish ; irides brown ; feet reddish brown. Length 
ten inches. Eggs yellowish brown spotted and speckled with grey and 
reddish brown. 

Few persons can have spent the summer months in the country, 
and enjoyed their evenings in the open air, without having grown 
familiar with the note of the Corn Crake ; yet, strange to say, 
among those who have heard it on numberless occasions, not one 
in a hundred (leaving sportsmen out of the account) have ever 
seen one alive. Its whole life, while with us, seems to be spent 
among the long grass and stalks of hay or corn, between which 
its long legs and slender body give it peculiar facility of moving, 
and it is only when hard pressed that it rises from the ground. 
Its flight is low, vvith its legs hanging down ; and it usually drops 
into the nearest hedge or cover which presents itself, and from 
which it is not easHy flushed a second time. 

The Corn Crake used to be found, during summer, in all the 
counties of England, but is less frequent in Cornwall and Devon- 
shire than in the counties farther east, and increases in abundance 
as we advance northwards. In the north of Ireland it is to be 
heard in every meadow and cornfield, and here its incessant cry 
in the evenings is monotonous, if not wearisome ; in many parts 
of Scotland it is also very common, and here it is much more 
frequently seen. In waste lands, where it can find no continuous 
corn, it takes refuge in patches of flags, rushes, or tall weeds, and 
if watched for, may be seen leaving its place of concealment, and 
quietly walking along the grass, lifting its feet high, and stooping 



THE SPOTTED CRAKE M9 

from time to time to pick up its food, consisting of worms, insects, 
snails, and seeds. 

The Land Rail is considered a delicate article of food, and has 
long been prized as such. In France it used to be termed, in old 
sporting phraseology, ' King of the Quails ', the Quail being a 
bird which it much resembles in colouring. 

The Corn Crake places its nest, which is composed of a few 
straws, in a hollow in the ground, among corn or hay, and lays 
from eight to ten, or rarely, twelve eggs. The young birds are 
able to accompany their parents in their mazy travels as soon as 
they have left the shell. The note of the old bird is heard much 
later in the season than the song of most other birds, and is prob- 
ably employed as a call-note to the young, which, but for some 
such guidance, would be very likely to go astray. In the still 
evenings of August, I have, while standing on the shore of the 
island of Islay, distinctly heard its monotonous crek-crek proceed- 
ing from a cornfield on the opposite shore of Jura, the Sound 
of Islay which intervened being here upwards of half a mile wide. 
On ordinary occasions it is not easy to decide on the position and 
distance of the bird while uttering its note ; for the Corn Crake 
is a ventriloquist of no mean proficiency. 



THE SPOTTED CRAKE 

PORZANA MARUETTA 

Forehead, throat, and a streak over the eye, lead-grey ; upper phimage olive- 
brown, spotted with black and white ; breast and under plumage olive 
and ash, spotted with white, the flanks barred with white and brown ; 
bill greenish yellow, orange at the base ; irides brown ; feet greenish 
yellow. Length nine inches. Eggs yellowish red, spotted and speckled 
with brown and ash. 

The Spotted Crake is smaller in size than the Com Crake, and 
far less common. It is shot from time to time in various parts 
of Great Britain, especially in the fen countries, to which its habits 
are best suited. It frequents watery places which abound with 
reeds, flags, and sedges, and among these it conceals itself, rarely 
using its wings, but often wading over mud and weeds, and taking 
freely to the water, in which it swims with facility. The nest, 
which is a large structure, composed of rushes and reeds, is placed 
among thick vegetation, near the water's edge, and contains from 
seven to ten eggs. 

The drainage and improving of waste lands has driven this 
Crake away, but its eggs have been found in Roscommon, and a 
nestling in Kerry. 



aj* THE WATER RAIL 

THE LITTLE CRAKE 

PORZANA PARVA 

Head brown ; upper plumage olive-ash, the featliers black in the centre ; 
middle of the back black, sprinkled with white ; throat, face, and breast, 
bluish grey, without spots ; abdomen and flanks indistinctly barred with 
white and brown ; wings without spots, reaching to the extremity of 
the tail ; bill green, reddish at the base ; irides red ; feet green. Length 
seven and a half inches. Eggs yellowish, spotted with olive-brown. 

This species appears to be generally diffused throughout the 
eastern and southern countries of Europe, but is very rare in 
England, coming now and again from spring to autumn. It is 
a shy bird, like the last species, confining itself exclusively to 
reedy marshes, and building its nest close to the water's edge. It 
lays seven or eight eggs. 



THE WATER RAIL 

RALLUS AQUAtICUS 

Upper feathers reddish brown, with black centres ; under plumage in front 
lead-colour, behind and on the flanks barred with black and white ; bill 
red, tinged with red above and at the tip ; irides red ; feet flesh-colour. 
Length ten inches. Eggs yellowsh, spotted with ash-grey and red-brown 

The Water Rail is a generally diffused bird, but nowhere very 
common, haunting bushy and reedy places near the banks of rivers 
and lakes, and especially the Norfolk Broads, where it feeds on 
aquatic insects, worms, and snails. Like the Crakes, it makes 
more use of its legs than of its wings, and places its safety in con- 
cealment. Rarely does it take flight, and then only when closely 
hunted ; still more rarely does it expose itself outside its aquatic 
jungle. I recollect on one occasion, during an intense frost, when 
every marsh was as impenetrable to a bird's bill as a sheet of 
marble, passing in a carriage near a stream which, having just 
issued from its source, was unfrozen ; I then saw more than one 
Water Rail hunting for food among the short rushes and grass 
on the water's edge. Its mode of walking I thought was very 
like that of the Moor-hen, but it had not the jerking movement 
of body characteristic of that bird, wliich alone would have sufficed 
to distinguish it, even if I had not been near enough to detect the 
difference of colour. Either the severity of the weather had 
sharpened its appetite, and made it less shy than usual, or it had 
not learnt to fear a horse and carriage, for it took no notice of 
the intrusion on its privacy, but went on with its search without 
condescending to look up. The Water Rail, then, unlike the 
Com Crake, remains with us all the winter. When forced to rise, 
this bird flies heavily straight forwards, at no great elevation above 
the rushes, with its logs hanging loose, and drops into the nearest 





Little Crake 
Water Rail i 



Spotted Crake 
Corn Crake or Land -Rail 6 If ace p. 230. 






Spoonbill J 



Coot 5 



Moor Hen. 

Bittern g 



THE MOOR-HEN »3i 

thicket of weeds. A nest and eggs of this bird are thus described 
in the Annals of Natural History : ' The bird had selected for 
her nest a thick tuft of long grass, hollow at the bottom, on the 
side of the reed pond ; the nest, about an inch and a half thick, 
was composed of withered leaves and rushes ; it was so covered 
by the top of the grass, that neither bird, nest, nor eggs could be 
seen ; the entrance to the nest was through an aperture of the 
grass, directly into the reeds, opposite to where any one would 
stand to see the nest.' The number of eggs is about ten or eleven. 
Its note during breeding is a loud, groaning cro-o-o-an. 

THE MOOR-HEN 

GALLfNULA CHL6rOPUS 

Upper plumage deep olive-brown ; under tail-coverts and edge of the wing 
white, the former with a few black feathers ; under plumage slate colour, 
the flanks streaked with white ; base of the bill and a space on the 
forehead bright orange, point of the bill yellow ; irides red ; feet olive- 
brown ; a red ring round the tibia. In females the colours are brighter 
than in the males. Young birds have the front of the neck whitish, 
the belly grey, the base of the beak and legs olive-brown. Length 
thirteen inches. Eggs bufi, spotted and speckled with orange-brown. 

Of the two common names of this bird, ' Moor-hen ' and ' Water- 
hen ', the former is that which is more generally in use, though 
the latter is the more appropriate. The bird frequents moors, 
it must be admitted, but only such as are watery ; while there is 
scarcely a river, lake, canal, brook, or even pond, of moderate 
dimensions, which Moor-hens do not either inhabit all the year 
round or occasionally visit. The name is objectionable on other 
accounts ; the male bird is called a Moor-hen as well as the female, 
whUe the terms Moor-fowl and Moor-cock have long been applied 
to the Ptarmigan. For these reasons, I suppose, many recent 
ornithologists Anglicize the systematic name, and call It the 
Gallinule, which means ' little fowl ', and is suggestive of the half- 
domestic habits of the bird, under certain circumstances. 

The Gallinule being a common bird of some size, conspicuous 
colours, and active habits, is an interesting appendage of our 
rivers and pieces of artificial water. Its note, something between a 
bark and a croak, is as well known in watered districts as the note 
of the Cuckoo, and is often uttered when the bird has no intention 
of being seen. Any one who may happen to be walking on the 
bank of a reedy pond may perhaps hear its strange cry and see 
the bird itself at some little distance, swimming about with a 
restless jerky motion, often dipping its head, and with every dip 
turning slightly to the right or the left. If he wishes for a nearer 
view, let him advance quietly, concealing himself as much as he 
can ; for if he proceeds carelessly, and takes off his eyes for any 



a$t THE MOOR-HEN 

considerable time from the spot where he observed it, when he 
looks again it will have disappeared, taken wing, he may imagine, 
for some distant part of the water. Not so ; the cunning bird, 
as soon as a stranger was perceived within a dangerous proximity, 
steered quietly for the nearest tuft of reeds, among which it lies 
ensconced till he has passed on his way. Or it rose out of the 
water, and, with its feet trailing on the surface, made for a similar 
place of concealment ; or dived to the bottom, where it still re- 
mains clinging to the weeds. Perhaps it lies close to his feet, 
having sunk beneath the water, and, aided by feet and wings, 
rowed a subaqueous course to an often-tried thicket of rushes, 
where, holding on with its feet to the stems of submerged weeds, 
it remains perfectly still, leaving nothing above the surface of the 
water but the point of its beak. If the observer suspects the 
whereabouts of its concealment, he may beat the rushes with his 
stick and produce no effect ; the bird knows itself to be safe where 
it is and will make no foolish attempt to better itself. A water 
spaniel or Newfoundland dog will be more effective. Very often 
an animal of this kind is an overmatch for its sagacity, and seizes 
it in his mouth before the poor bird was aware that the water 
itself was to be invaded ; but more frequently it discovers an 
onset of this nature in time to clear itself from its moorings, and 
dashing out with a splashing movement of feet and wings skims 
across the pond to another lurking-place, and defies further 
pursuit. 

The Gallinule, though an excellent swimmer and diver, belongs 
to the Waders ; it has, consequently, free use of its legs on land, 
and here it is no less nimble than in the water. When induced to 
change the scene it steps ashore, and, with a peculiar jerking 
motion of its tail, showing the white feathers beneath, and very 
conspicuous by its bright red bill, which harmonizes pleasantly 
with the green grass, it struts about and picks up worms, insects, 
snails, or seeds, with unflagging perseverance, making no stay 
anywhere, and often running rapidly. If surprised on these 
occasions, it either makes for the water, or flies off in a line for 
some thick hedge or patch of brush-wood, from which it is very 
difficult to dislodge it. 

Its mode of life is pretty much the same all the year round ; 
it is not a traveller from choice. Only in severe weather, when 
its haunts are bound up with ice, it is perforce compelled to shift 
its quarters. It then travels by night and searches for unfrozen 
streams. At such times it appears occasionally in pretty large 
numbers in places where usually a few only resort. When the 
south of Europe is visited by severe frosts it is supposed even to 
cross the Mediterranean, it having been observed in Algeria, feeding 
in marshes in half-social parties, where a day or two before none 
had been seen. To the faculties of swimming and running it 



THE COMMON COOT 93$ 

adds that of perching on trees ; this it does habitually, as it roosts 
in low bushy trees ; and it has besides the power of wsdking cleverly 
along the branches. 

In the neighbourhood of houses where it has long been undis- 
turbed, it loses much of its shy nature, and will not only allow 
itself to be approached within a short distance, but, becoming 
half-domesticated, will consort with the poultry in the farm-yard, 
and come with them to be fed. It is fond also of visiting the 
kitchen-garden, where it is apt to make itself unwelcome, by help- 
ing itself to the tenderest and best of the vegetables. Bishop 
Stanley, in his entertaining Book on Birds, gives some highly 
amusing anecdotes of the Gallinule. 

It buUds its nest on the stump of a tree, or in a bush among 
wet places, or in the roots of alders, but often it is placed on the 
low-lying branch of a tree overhanging the water. The nest is 
a large structure, made of rushes and dry flags, and is easy of 
detection. It is very liable, too, to be swept away by any sudden 
rise in a river. Added to which, the young frequently fall a prey 
to pike. But as the bird has two, and sometimes three, broods 
in a year, each consisting of from six to eight, it remains undimin- 
ished in numbers. The nest is sometimes placed in a tree at a 
distance from the water. When this is the case, as the habits of 
the young birds are aquatic, immediately on their breaking the 
egg, the old birds convey them in their claws to the water. An 
instance is recorded in the Zoologist of a female Gallinule being 
seen thus employed carrying a young one in each foot ; it has been 
observed, too, that in such cases the male bird buUds a second 
nest, near the water's edge, to which the young retire for shelter 
during the night, untU they are sufficiently fledged to accompany 
their parents to their ordinary roosting-places in trees. 



THE COMMON COOT 

FULICA ATRA 

Upper plumage black, tinged on the back with grey ; under parts bluish grey ; 
frontal disk large, pure white ; bill white, tinged with rose-red ; irides 
crimson ; feet grey, tinged with green ; part of the tibia orange-yellow. 
Length sixteen inches. Eggs brownish, speckled with reddish brown. 

The Coot, seen from a distance, either on land or water, might be 
mistaken for a Gallinule, flirting up its tail when it swims, jerking 
its head to and fro, and when on land strutting about with a pre- 
cisely similar movement of all its members. On a nearer examin- 
ation, it is clearly distinguished by its larger size and the white 
bare spot above the bill, in front, from which it is often called 
the Bald-headed Coot. It is only during the summer season that 
the two birds can be compared ; for while the Gallinule remains 



«J4 "tHE CRANE 

in the same waters all the year round, the Coot visits the Azores, 
Madeira and the Canaries, North Africa and Egypt in winter, and 
gets as far south as the Blue Nile. Their note, in summer, is a 
loud harsh cry, represented by the syllable krew, as it would 
be uttered by a crazy trumpet. In winter they are nearly mute. 
During the latter season, Coots are confined to the southern parts 
of the island ; but in the breeding season they are more generally 
diffused. 

When seen on the sea-coast, they are readily distinguished 
from Ducks by the different position in which they sit on the water, 
with their heads low, poking forwards, and their tails sticking high 
above the body. When flying in large coveys, they crowd to- 
gether into a mass, but when swimming scatter over a wide space. 

They have the same power of concealing themselves by diving 
among weeds that has been already said to be possessed by the 
Gallinule. I have seen a female Coot and her brood, when 
disturbed by a party of sportsmen, paddle for a small patch of 
rushes, and defy a long-continued and minute search conducted 
by keepers and clever water-dogs. The latter appeared to traverse, 
again and again, every square foot of the rush bed ; but not a 
single bird was dislodged. 

Owing to drainage the Coot is less plentiful than it was, although 
the late Lord Lilford said it had increased much on the river Neue 
of recent years. 



ORDER ALECTORIDES 

FAMILY GRUID.E 
THE CRANE 

GRUB COMMUNIS 

General plumage ash-grey ; throat, part of the neck, and back of the head, 
dark blackish grey ; forehead and cere covered with black bristly hairs ; 
crown naked, orange red ; some of the secondaries elongated, arched, 
and having the barbs of the feathers free ; bill greenish black, reddish 
at the base, horn-coloured at the tip ; irides reddish brown ; feet black. 
Young birds have the crown feathered, and want the dark grey of the neck 
and head. Length five feet. Eggs pale greenish ash, blotched and 
spotted wdth brown and dark green. 

From the fact of nine Cranes being recorded among the presents 
receiv^ed at the wedding of the daughter of Mr. More, of Loseley, in 
1567, it would appear that these birds were tolerably common in 
England at that date. 




Common Crane. 

Heron 2 



Stock J 
Night He: on. 



IfKC p. 234 





Kentish Plover 5 J 
Golden Plover ^ 



Grey Plover ^ (Summer and Winter) 
Ringed Plover, young and $ 



THE CRANB «3S 

Willnghby, whose Ornithology was published about a hundred 
years later, says that Cranes were regular visitors in England, and 
that large flocks of them were to be found, in summer, in the fens 
of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire. Whether they bred in Eng- 
land, as Aldrovandus states, on the authority of an Englishman 
who had seen their young, he could not say on his own personal 
knowledge. 

Sir Thomas Browne, a contemporary of Willughby, writes, in 
his account of birds found in Norfolk : ' Cranes are often seen here 
in hard winters, especially about the champaign and fieldy part. 
It seems they have been more plentiful ; for, in a bUl of fare, when 
the mayor entertained the Duke of Norfolk, I met with Cranes 
in a dish.' 

Pennant, writing towards the close of the eighteenth century, 
says : ' On the strictest inquiry, we learn that, at present, the 
inhabitants of those counties are scarcely acquainted with them ; 
we therefore conclude that these birds have left our land.' Three 
or four instances only of the occurrence of the Crane took place 
within the memory of Pennant's last editor ; and about as many 
more are recorded by Yarrell as having come within the notice 
of his correspondents during the present century. It would seem, 
therefore, that the Crane has ceased to be a regular visitor to 
Britain. It is, however, still of common occurrence in many parts 
of the Eastern Continent, passing its summer in temperate 
climates, and retiring southwards at the approach of winter. Its 
periodical migrations are remarkable for their punctuality, ft hav- 
ing been observed that, during a long series of years, it has invariably 
traversed France southward in the latter half of the month of Octo- 
ber, returning during the latter half of the month of March. On 
these occasions. Cranes fly in large flocks, composed of two lines 
meeting at an angle, moving with no great rapidity, and alighting 
mostly during the day to rest and feed. At other seasons, it ceases 
to be gregarious, and repairs to swamps and boggy morasses, where 
in spring it builds a rude nest of reeds and rushes on a bank or 
stump of a tree, and lays two eggs. As a feeder it may be called 
omnivorous, so extensive is its dietary. Its note is loud and 
sonorous, but harsh, and is uttered when the birds are performing 
their flights as well as at other times. 

The Crane of the Holy Scriptures is most probably not this species, 
which is rare in Palestine, but another, Grus Virgo, the Crane 
figured on the Egyptian monuments, which periodically visits the 
Lake of Tiberias, and whose note is a chatter, and not the trumpet 
sound of the Cinereous Crane. In the north of Ireland, in Wales 
and perhaps elsewhere, the Heron is commonly called a Crane. 

A certain number of Cranes have been noticed in the Shetland 
Isles, and some in the Orkneys. The latest seen in Ireland was in 
1884, County Mayo. 



S|« THE GREAT BUSTARD 

FAMILY OTIDIDiE 

No hind toe. 
THE GREAT BUSTARD 

OTIS TARDA 

Head, neck, breast, and edge of the wing ash grey ; on the crown a longitu- 
dinal black streak ; bill with a tuft of elongated loose feathers on each 
side of the lower mandible ; upper plumage reddish yellow, streaked 
transversely with black ; lower whitish ; tail reddish brown and white, 
barred with black. Female — smaller, without a moustache, the streak on 
the crown fainter. Length nearly four feet. Eggs olive-brown, irregu- 
larly blotched with dull red and deep brown. 

The Great Bustard was formerly not unfrequent in Britain, but 
of late years it has become so rare that it is now impossible to 
describe its habits on the testimony of a living eye-witness. In 
several parts of the Continent it is indeed still to be met with ; 
but I find so many discrepancies in the various accounts which I 
have consulted, that it is hard to believe aU the writers who de- 
scribe it to have had the same bird in view. Some of these the 
reader may examine for himself. 

The earliest mention of it which I find occurs in the Anabasis of 
Xenophon, who describes a plain or steppe near the Euphrates 
full of aromatic herbs, and abounding with Wild Asses, Ostriches, 
and Bustards {Otis). The latter, he says, ' could be caught when 
any one came on them suddenly, as they fly to a short distance 
like Partridges and soon give in. Their flesh is delicious.' Pliny's 
description of the Bustard is very brief. He saj-s it approaches 
the Ostrich in size ; that it is called Avis tarda in Spain, Otis in 
Greece ; its flesh is very disagreeable, in consequence of the strong 
scent of its bones.' Our countryman Willughby, who wrote in 
the middle of the seventeenth century, gives a longer account. 
' The Bustard has no hind claw, which is especially worthy of 
notice ; for by this mark and by its size it is sufficiently distin- 
guished from all birds of the tribe. It feeds on com and the seeds 
of herbs, wild cabbage, leaves of the dandelion, etc. I have 
found in its crop abundance of the seeds of cicuta, with but a few 
grains of barley even in harvest-time. It is found on the plains 
near Newmarket and Roj'ston, and elsewhere on heaths and plains. 
Bustards are birds of slow flight, and raise themselves from the 
ground with difficulty, on account of their size and weight ; hence, 
without doubt, the name ta>'du was given to them by the Latins. 
By the Scotch, on the authority of Hector Boethius, they are 
called GustardcE.' 

M. Pen-ault, who wrote lq 1676, gives an account of a tame 
Bustard which was kept for a while in summer in a garden, and 
died of cold in the winter. ' He killed mice and sparrows with 



THE -GREAT BUSTARD 237 

his bill by pinching their heads, and then swallowed them whole, 
even when of considerable size. It was easy to observe a large 
mouse going down his throat, making a moving tumour till it 
came to the turn of the neck ; it then moved backwards, and al- 
though out of sight, yet its progress was traced by the feathers 
between the shoulders separating, and closing again as soon as it 
passed into the gizzard. He was fond of worms, and whUe the gar- 
dener was digging, stood by him and looked out for them. He 
ate the buds of flowers, and particularly of roses ; also the sub- 
stance of cucumbers, but not the outside. From these observa- 
tions the Bustard is evidently fitted more particularly to live on 
animal food.' 

The average number of Bustards annually supplied to Chevet, 
the great game-dealer of the Palais Royal, Paris, about fifty years 
ago, was six. Its principal place of resort in France was the wild 
country between Arcis-sur-Aube and Chalons, in most other dis- 
tricts it was as little known as with us. 

Several authors of undoubted veracity state that the adult male 
Bustard has a capacious pouch, situated along the fore part of the 
neck, the entrance of which is under the tongue, capable of hold- 
ing several quarts of water — it is said not less than seven. Montagu, 
in his Ornithological Dictionary, expresses his doubt whether the 
bird could carry as much as seven quarts, or fourteen pounds, 
while flying ; he admits, however, that ' it is large, as may be seen 
in the Leverian Museum ' ; and he adds, ' that it is only discover- 
able in adults, as it is most likely intended for the purpose of 
furnishing the female and young in the breeding with water.' Of 
this pouch a figure is given by Yarrell, copied from Edwards' 
Gleanings of Natural History, and there inserted on the authority 
of Dr. James Douglas, the discoverer. Some doubts having arisen 
in Mr. YarreU's mind as to the accuracy of the statement, he took 
much pains to ascertain the truth by dissecting several adult 
males, and found no peculiarity of structure — a result which was 
also arrived at by Professor Owen, who dissected one with a view 
of obtaining a preparation of the supposed pouch for the Museum 
of the College of Surgeons. A paper by Mr. Yarrell, ^ read before 
the Linnean Society since the publication of his admirable work 
on Ornithology, contains many other interesting particulars res- 
pecting this bird, to which the reader is referred. 

Bustards have been seen in England at various intervals during 
the last eighty or a hundred years, sometimes in small flights and 
sometimes as solitary specimens, more frequently in Norfolk than 
in any other county, but they have ceased to breed in this country. 
I lately met a gentleman in Norfolk who well recollected the time 
when Bustards were to be met with in that county. On the lands 

* Lin, Trans., vol. xxi. p. 155. 



238 THE PRATINCOLE 

near Flamborough Head there used to be droves of them. They 
were occasionally seen in the middle of the large uniuclosed plains 
with which Norfolk formerly abounded, and in such situations he 
had himself seen them. When disturbed they move of! rapidly, 
employing both their feet and wings, rising heavily, but at an 
angle so acute that they advanced perhaps a hundred yards 
before they attained the height of a man. When once on the 
wing, they flew swiftly. They formerly bred in the parish of 
Deepdale, and he could himself recoUect an instance when an 
attempt was made to rear some in captivity from the eggs, but failed. 
The Bustard is now only a very rare visitor to Great Britain. Its 
last fertile eggs were taken in Norfolk and Suffolk about the year 
1838. 



ORDER LIMICOLiE 

FAMILY GLAREOLID.^ 

THE PRATINCOLE 

GLAREOLA PRATINCOLA 

Crown, nape, back, scapulars, and wng-coverts, greyish brown ; throat and 
front of the neck white, tinged with red, and bounded by a narrow black 
collar, which ascends to the base of the beak ; lore black ; bresist whitish 
brown ; lower wing-coverts chestnut ; under parts white, tinged with 
brownish red ; tail-coverts, and base of tail-feathers, white ; the rest 
of the tail dusky, much forked ; beak black, red at the base ; irides 
reddish brown ; orbits naked, bright red ; feet reddish ash. Length 
nine inches and a half. Eggs pale stone colour, spotted with grey and 
dusky. 

The Pratincole, called on the Continent, but without good reason, 
Perdrix de mer, or Sea Partridge, is a rare visitor to Great Britain, 
inhabiting for the most part the northern part of Africa, and the 
countries in the vicinity of the Don, the Volga, the Caspian, and 
the Black Sea. It has been observed also from time to time in 
several of the countries of Europe. 

In some of its habits it resembles the Plovers, as it frequents 
open plains and runs with great rapidity. In nidification, also, 
and in the shape, colour, and markings of its eggs it is associated 
with the same tribe ; while in its mode of flight and habit of catch- 
ing flies while on the wing, it approaches the Swallows. Hence 
it was named by Linnaeus, Hirundo -pratincola, and under this 
designation it is figured in Bewick. Its true place in the system 
is, however, undoubtedly, among the waders, several of which 
not only feed on insects, but are expert in catching them on the 
wing. 



THE THICK-KNEE OR STONE CURLEW 339 

FAMILY CHARADRIIDiE 

THE THICK-KNEE OR STONE CURLEW 

CEDICN^MUS SC6lOPAX 

Upper parts reddish ash with a white spot in the middle of each feather ; 
space between the eye and beak, tliroat, belly, and thighs, white ; neck 
and breast tinged with red, and marked with fine longitudinal brown 
streaks ; a white longitudinal bar on the wing ; first primary with a 
large white spot in the middle ; second, with a small one on the inner web ; 
lower tail-coverts reddish, the feathers, except those in the middle, 
tipped with black ; beak black, yellowish at the base ; irides, orbits, 
and feet, yellow. Length seventeen inches. Eggs yellowish brown clouded 
with greenish, blotched and spotted with dusky and olive. 

Though a citizen of the world, or at least of the eastern hemis- 
phere, this bird is commonly known under the name of Norfolk 
Plover, from its being more abundant in that county than in any 
other. It is also called Thick-knee, from the robust conformation 
of this joint ; and Stone Curlew, from its frequenting waste stony 
places and uttering a note which has been compared to the sound 
of the syllables curlui or lurlui. Like the Cuckoo, it is more fre- 
quently heard than seen, but that only by night. In some of its 
habits it resembles the Bustard, and is said even to associate, in 
Northern Africa, with the Lesser Bustard. Its favourite places 
of resort are extensive plains ; it runs rapidly when disturbed, and 
when it does take wing, flies for a considerable distance near the 
ground before mounting into the air. It frequents our open heaths 
and chalk downs and breeds in Romney Marsh and in the uplands 
of Kent and Sussex. 

By day the Thick-knee confines itself to the ground, either 
crouching or hunting for food, which consists of worms, slugs, and 
beetles, under stones, which it is taught by its instinct to turn over. 
After sunset, it takes flight, and probably rises to a great height, 
as its plaintive whistle, which somewhat resembles the wail of a 
human being, is often heard overhead when the bird is invisible. 
It is singularly shy, and carefully avoids the presence of human 
beings, whether sportsmen or labourers. Yet it is not destitute 
of courage, as it has been seen to defend its nest with vigour against 
the approach of sheep or even of dogs. Nest, properly speaking, 
it has none, for it contents itself with scratching a hole in the ground 
and depositing two eggs. The males are supposed to assist in the 
office of incubation. The young inherit the faculty of running at 
an early age, being able to leave their birth-place with facility 
soon after they are hatched ; but the development of their wings 
is a work of time, for their body has attained its full size long before 
they are able to rise from the ground. Before taking their depar- 
ture southwards in autumn, they assemble in small parties, number- 
ing from four to six or seven, when they are somewhat more easy 



i40 THE GOLDEN PLOVER 

of approach than in spring. In the chalky plains of La Mame in 
France they are very numerous ; and here, by the aid of a light 
cart, fowlers in quest of them have little difficulty in shooting 
large numbers, the birds being less afraid of the approach of a horse 
than of a human being. But when obtained they are of little 
value, as their flesh is barely eatable. 

The Thick-knee is migratory, visiting us in the beginning of 
April to stay till October, His flights are made by night. 



THE CREAM-COLOURED COURSER 

CURSORIUS GALLICUS 

Plumage reddish cream colour ; wing-coverts bordered with ash-grey ; throat 
whitish; behind the eyes a double black bar ; lateral tail-feathers black 
towards the tip, with a white spot in the centre of the black ; abdomen 
whitish. Length nine inches. Eggs unknown. 

Though the specific name Europseus would seem to imply that 
this bird is of frequent occurrence in Europe, this is not the case. 
Not more than three or four have been observed in Great Britain, 
at various intervals, from 1785 to 1827 ; and on the Continent 
it is an equally rare visitor to the plains of Provence and Languedoc. 
It is a native of S5^ia, Egypt, and Abyssinia, frequenting pools 
and other moist situations. It is singularly fearless of man, and 
when disturbed prefers to run, which it does very swiftly, rather than 
to take flight. Its winter residence is supposed to be the central 
lakes of Africa, from which it returns to the countries named above 
early in autumn, and disappears at the approach of winter. Nothing 
is known of its nidification. About the autumn of 1868 one was 
shot in Lanarkshire 



THE GOLDEN PLOVER 

CHARADRIUS PLUVIALIS 

Winter — upper plumage dusky, spotted with yellow, cheeks, neck, and breast 
mottled with ash-brown and bu£E ; throat and abdomen white ; quills 
dusky, white along the shafts towards the end ; beak dusky, feet deep 
ash-colour ; irides brown. Summer — upper plumage greyish black, 
spotted with bright yellow ; forehead and space above the eyes white ; 
sides of the neck white, mottled with black and yellow ; lore, throat, 
neck, and lower parts deep black. Length nine inches. Eggs yellowish 
green, blotched and spotted with black. 

The Golden Plover is a common bird in the south of England during 
the winter months, and in the mountainous parts of Scotland and 
the north of England during the rest of the year ; yet so different 
are its habits and plumage at the extremes of these two seasons, 
that the young naturalist who has had no opportunities of observing 
them in their transition stage, and has had no access to trustworthy 



THE GOLDEN PLOVER 841 

books, might be forgiven for setting down the two forms of the 
bird as distinct species. 

In the hilly districts of the north of Europe, Golden Plovers are 
numerous, sometimes being, with Ptarmigans, the only birds which 
relieve the solitude of the desolate wastes. Though numerous in 
the same localities, they are not gregarious during spring and 
summer, and are remarkable for their fearlessness of man. So 
tame, indeed, are they that, in little-frequented places, when dis- 
turbed by the traveller they will run along the stony ground a few 
yards in front of him, then fiy a few yards, then stand and stare 
and run along as before. On such occasions they frequently utter 
their singular cry — the note so often referred to in Sir Walter Scott's 
poems — which, hke the Nightingale's song, is considered simply 
plaintive or painfully woe-begone, according to the natural tem- 
perament or occasional mood of the hearer. This bird builds no 
nest ; a natural depression in the ground, unprotected by bush, 
heather or rock, serves its purpose, and here the female lays four 
eggs, much pointed at one end, and arranges them in accordance 
with this. 

At the approach of autumn, no matter where their summer may 
have been passed. Plovers migrate southwards in large flights, 
those from Scotland to the southern counties of England, where 
they frequent wide moist pastures, heaths, and reclaimed marsh- 
land. From the northern parts of the continent of Europe they 
take their departure in October, either to the European shores of 
the Mediterranean, or to the plains of Northern Africa. In these 
migrations they are not unfrequently joined by Starlings. They 
travel in close array, forming large flocks much wider than deep, 
moving their sharp wings rapidly, and making a whizzing sound 
which may be heard a long way of^. Now and then, as if actuated 
by a single impulse, they sweep towards the ground, suddenly alter 
the direction of their flight, then wheel upwards with the regularity 
of a machine, and either alight or pursue their onward course. 
This habit of skimming along the ground and announcing their 
approach beforehand, is turned to good purpose by the bird-catcher, 
who imitates their note, attracts the whole flight to sweep down 
into his neighbourhood, and captures them in his net, a hundred 
at a time, or, when they are within range, has no difficulty in killing 
from twelve to twenty at a shot. Not unfrequently, too, when 
some members of a flock have been killed or wounded, the remainder, 
before they remove out of danger, wheel round and sweep just over 
the heads of their ill-fated companions, as if for the purpose of 
inquiring the reason why they have deserted the party, or of alluring 
them to join it once more. This habit is not peculiar to Plovers, 
but may be noticed in the case of several of the seaside waders, 
as Dunlins and Sanderlings. In severe winter weather they desert 
the meadows, in which the worms have descended into the ground 

B.B. B 



24J THE GREY PLOVER 

beyond the reach of frost, and so of their bills, and resort to the 
muddy or sandy sea-shore. In the Hebrides it is said that they do 
not migrate at all, but simply content themselves with shifting 
from the moors to the shore and back again, according to the weather. 
In the northern parts of France, on the other hand, they are only 
known as passengers on their way to the south. From making 
their appearance in the rainy season they are there called phiviers, 
whence our name Plover, which, however, is supposed by some 
to have been given to them for their indicating by their movements 
coming changes in the weather, in wliich respect indeed their skill 
is marvellous. 

The Golden Plover, sometimes called also Yellow Plover, and 
Green Plover, is found at various seasons in most countries of 
Europe ; but the Golden Plovers of Asia and America are considered 
to be different species. 



THE GREY PLOVER 

squatArola helvetica 

Winter — forehead, throat, and under plumage, white, spotted on the neck 
and flanks with grey and brown ; upper plumage dusky brown, mottled 
with white and ash colour ; long axillary feathers black or dusky ; tail 
white, barred with brown and tipped \vith reddish ; bill black ; irides 
dusky ; feet blackish grey. Summer — lore, neck, breast, belly, and 
flanls, black, bounded by white ; upper plumage and tail black and 
white. Length eleven and a half inches. Eggs olive, spotted with 
black. 

Many of the Waders agree in wearing, during winter, plumage in 
a great measure of a different hue from that which characterizes 
them in summer ; and, as a general rule, the winter tint is lighter 
than that of summer. This change is, in fact, but an extension of 
the law which clothes several of the quadrupeds with a dusky or a 
snowy fur in accordance with the season. The Grey Plover, as 
seen in England, well deserves its name, for, as it frequents our 
shores in the winter alone, it is only known to us as a bird grey 
above and white below. But in summer the under plumage is 
decidedly black, and in this respect it bears a close resemblance to 
the Golden Plover, with which, in spite of the presence of a rudi- 
mentary fourth toe, it is closely allied. My friend, the Rev. W. S. 
Hore, informs me that he has seen them in Norfolk wearing the full 
black plumage in May. The occurrence of the bird, however, in 
this condition, in England, is exceptional ; wliile in the northern 
regions, both of the Old and New World, it must be unusual to see 
an adult bird in any other than the sable plumage of summer. 
The Grey Plover is a bird of extensive geographical range, being 
known in Japan, India, New Guirea, the Cape of Good Hope, Eeypt, 



THE GREY PLOVER 243 

the continent of Europe, and North America. In this country, as 
I have observed, it occurs from autumn to spring, frequenting the 
seashore, and picking up worms and other animal productions cast 
up by the sea. Grey Plovers are less abundant than Golden 
Plovers ; yet, in severe seasons they assemble in numerous small 
flocks on the shores of the eastern counties, and, as Meyer well 
observes, they are disposed to be " sociable, not only towards their 
own species, but to every other coast bird. When a party either 
go towards the shore, or leave it for the meadows and flat wastes, 
they unanimously keep together ; but when alighting, they mix 
with every other species, and thus produce a motley group." They 
fly in flocks, varying from five to twenty or more, keeping in a line, 
more or less curved, or in two lines forming an angle. Their flight 
is strong and rapid, rarely direct, but sweeping in wide semicircles. 
As they advance they alternately show their upper and under 
plumage, but more frequently the latter ; for they generally keep at 
a height of sixty or a hundred yards from the ground, in this respect 
differing from Ringed Plovers, Dunlins, etc. Occasionally one or 
two of the flock utter a loud whistle, which seems to be a signal for 
all to keep close order. Just as Starlings habitually alight wherever 
they see Rooks or Gulls feeding, so the Grey Plovers join themselves 
on to any society of birds which has detected a good hunting-ground. 
During a single walk along the sands I have observed them mixed 
up with Dunlins, Knots, Gulls, Redshanks, and Royston Crows ; 
but in no instance was I able to approach near enough to note their 
habit of feeding. They were always up and away before any other 
birds saw danger impending. In autumn they are less shy. 

The people on the coast describe the Grey Plover as the shyest 
of all the Waders, and could give me no information as to its habits ; 
but Meyer, whose description of this bird is very accurate in other 
respects, states that " its general appearance is peculiar to itself ; 
it walks about on the ground slowly and with grace, and stops every 
now and then to pick up its food ; it carries its body in a horizontal 
position on straight legs, and its head very close to its body, conse- 
quently increasing the thick appearance of the head." 

The Grey Plover breeds in high latitudes, making a slight hollow 
in the ground, and employing a few blades of grass. It lays four 
eggs, on which it sits so closely that it will almost be trodden on. 
When thus disturbed its ways remind one of the Ringed Plover. 



aU THE DOTTEREL 

THE DOTTEREL 

EUDROMIAS MORINELLUS 

Winter — head dusky ash ; over each eye a reddish white band, meeting at 
the nape ; face whitish, dotted with black ; back dusky ash, tinged with 
green, the feathers edged with rust-red ; breast and flanks reddish ash ; 
gorget white ; beak black ; irides bro%vn ; feet greenish ash. Summer — 
face and a band over the eyes white ; head dusky ; nape and sides of 
the neck ash ; feather3 of the back, wing-coverts, and wing- feathers, 
edged with deep red ; gorget white, bordered above by a narrow black 
line ; lower part of the breast and flcinks bright rust-red ; middle of the 
belly black ; abdomen reddish white. Young birds have a reddish tinge 
on the head, and the tail is tipped wth red. Length nine inches and a 
half. Eggs yellowish olive, blotched and spotted with dusky brown. 

The Dotterel, Little Dotard, or Morinellus, ' little fool ', received 
both the one and the other of its names from its alleged stupidity. 
' It is a silly bird ', says Willughby, writing in 1676 ; ' but as an 
article of food a great delicacy. It is caught in the night by lamp- 
light, in accordance with the movements of the fowler. For if he 
stretch out liis arm, the bird extends a wing ; if he a leg, the bird 
does the same. In short, whatever the fowler does, the Dotterel 
does the same. And so intent is it on the movements of its pursuer, 
that it is unawares entangled in the net.' Such, at least, was the 
common belief ; and Pennant alludes to it, quoting the following 
passage from the poet Drayton : 

Most worthy man, with thee 'tis ever thus. 
As men take Dottrels, so hast thou ta'en us 
Which, as a man his arme or leg doth set. 
So this fond bird will likewise counterfeit. 

In Pennant's time, Dotterels were not uncommon in Cambridgeshire, 
Lincolnshire, and Derbyshire, appearing in small flocks of eight or 
ten only, from the latter end of April to the middle of June ; and 
I have been informed by a gentleman in Norfolk that, not many 
years since, they annually resorted also in small flocks to the plains 
of that county. Of late years, o\\'ing most probably to their being 
much sought after for the table, they have become more rare ; and 
the same thing has taken place in France. 

The Dotterel has been observed in many of the English counties 
both in spring and autumn, and has been known to breed in the 
mountainous parts of the north of England ; but I may remark 
that the name is frequently given in Norfolk and elsewhere to the 
Ringed Plover, to which bird also belong the eggs collected on the 
sea-coast, and sold as Dotterel's eggs. 



THE RINGED PLOVER S45 

THE RINGED PLOVER 

iEGIALITIS HIAXfCULA 

Forehead, lore, sides of the face, gorget reaching round the neck, black ; a 
band across the forehead and through the eyes, throat, a broad collar, 
and all the lower parts, white ; upper plumage ash-brown ; outer tail- 
feather white, the next nearly so, the other feathers grey at the base, 
passing into dusky and black, tipped with white, except the two middle 
ones, which have no white tips ; orbits, feet and beak orange, the latter 
tipped with black. Young — colours of the head dull ; gorget incom- 
plete, ash-brown ; bill dusky, tinged with orange at the base of the 
lower mandible ; feet yellowish. Length seven and a half inches. Eggs 
olive-yellow, with numerous black and grey spots. 

On almost any part of the sea-coast of Britain, where there is a 
wide expanse of sand left at low water, a bird may often be noticed, 
not much larger than a Lark, grey above and white below, a patch 
of black on the forehead and under the eye, a white ring round the 
neck, and a black one below. If the wind be high, or rain be falling, 
the observer will be able to get near enough to see these markings ; 
for sea-birds generally are less acute observers in foul weather than 
In fair. On a nearer approach, the bird will fly up, uttering a soft, 
sweet, plaintive whistle of two notes, and, having performed a 
rapid, semicircular flight, will probably alight at no great distance, 
and repeat its note. If it has settled on the plain sand or on the 
water's edge, or near a tidal pool, it runs rapidly, without hopping, 
stoops its head, picks up a worm, a portion of sheU-fish, or a sand- 
hopper, runs, stops, pecks, and runs again, but does not allow any 
one to come so near as before. The next time that it alights, it 
may select, perhaps, the beach of shells and pebbles above high- 
water mark. Then it becomes at once invisible ; or, if the observer 
be very keen-sighted, he may be able to detect it while it is in motion, 
but then only. Most probably, let him mark ever so accurately with 
his eye the exact spot on which he saw it alight, and let him walk 
up to the spot without once averting his eye, he will, on his arrival, 
find it gone. It has run ahead with a speed marvellous in so small 
a biped, and is pecking among the stones a hundred yards oft. Its 
name is the Ringed Plover, or Ringed Dotterel. Fishermen on 
the coast call it a Stone-runner, a most appropriate name ; others 
call it a Sea Lark. In ornithological works it is described under 
the former of these names. 

The Ringed Plover frequents the shores of Great Britain all the 
year round. It is a social bird, but less so in spring than at any 
other season ; for the females are then employed in the important 
business of incubation, and the males are too attentive to their 
mates to engage in picnics on the sands. The nest is a simple 
hollow in the sand, above high-water mark, or on the shingly beach ; 
and here the female lays four large, pointed eggs, which are arranged 
in the nest with all the small ends together. The young are able 



$46 THE KENTISH PLOVER 

to run as soon as they break the shell ; but, having no power of 
flight for a long time, avoid impending danger by scattering and 
hiding among the stones. The old bird, on such occasions, uses 
her wings ; but not to desert her charge. She flies up to the intruder, 
and, like other members of the same family, endeavours to entice 
him away by counterfeiting lameness or some injury. 

The Ringed Plover sometimes goes inland to rear her young, and 
lays her eggs in a sandy warren, on the bank of a river or the margin 
of a lake ; but when the young are able to fly, old and young together 
repair to the seashore, collecting in flocks, and for the most part 
continuing to congregate until the following spring. Their flight is 
rapid and sweeping, consisting of a succession of curves, while per- 
forming which they show sometimes their upper grey plumage, and 
at other times the under, which is of a dazzling white. Occasionally, 
too, as they wheel from one tack to another, every bird is lost sight 
of, owing to the perfect unanimity with which, at the same instant, 
they alter their course, and to the incapacity of the human eye to 
follow the rapid change from a dark hue to a light. 

Not unfrequently one falls in with a solitary individual which 
has been left behind by its companions, or has strayed from the 
flock. Such a bird, when disturbed, utters its whistle more fre- 
quently than on ordinary occasions, and, as its note is not difficult 
of imitation, I have often enticed a stray bird to fly close up to me, 
answering all the while. But it has rarely happened that I have 
succeeded in practising the deception on the same bird a second 
time. 



THE KENTISH PLOVER 

.^EGIALITIS CANTIANA 

Forehead, a band over each eye, chin, cheeks, and under parts, white ; upper 
part of the forehead, a band from the base of the beak extending through 
the eye, and a large spot on each side of the breast, black ; head and nape 
light brownish red ; rest of the upper plumage ash-brown ; two outer 
tail-feathers white, the third whitish, the rest brown ; beak, irides, and 
feet, brown. Female wants the black spot on the forehead, and the other 
parts black in the male are replaced by ash-brown. Length six axid a 
half inches. Eggs olive-yellow, spotted and speckled with black. 

The Kentish Plover differs from the preceding in its inferior size, 
in having a narrower stripe of black on the cheeks, and in wanting 
the black ring round the neck. It is found from time to time in 
various parts of the country, breeding in Kent, Sussex and the 
Channel Islands, but is most abundant on the shores of the Mediter- 
ranean. Its habits resemble closely those of the allied species. 

On the authority of the Greek historian Herodotus, a little bird 
is found in Egypt called the Trochilus, which is noted for the friendly 




Curlew (? 
Dotterel $ 



Peewit ? 
Norfolk Plover ? 



If ace p. Sie. 








Avocet 
Red-necked Phalarope 



Grey Phalarope- 9 
Bar-tailed Godwit 9 



THE LAPWING, OR PEEWIT 247 

and courageous office it performs for the Crocodile. This unwieldy 
monster, having no flexible tongue wherewith to cleanse its mouth, 
comes on shore after its meals, opens its jaws, and allows the Tro- 
chilus to enter and pick off the leeches and fragments of food, which, 
adhering to its teeth, interfere, with its comfort. This story was 
long believed to be a fable ; but the French naturalist Geoffrey 
de Saint Hilaire has, in modem times, confirmed the veracity of the 
father of history, and pronounces the Trochilus of the ancients to 
be the Pluvier d, Collier intenompu, the subject of the present chapter. 
The Cayman of South America is also said to be indebted for a 
similar service to the kindly offices of a little bird, which, however, 
Is not a Plover, but a Toddy. 



THE LAPWING, OR PEEWIT 

VANELLUS VULGARIS 

Feathers on the back of the head elongated and curved upwards ; head, crest 
and breast, glossy black ; throat, sides of the neck, belly and abdomen 
white ; under tail-coverts yellowish red ; upper plumage dark green 
■with purple reflections ; tail, when expanded, displaying a large semi- 
circular graduated black patch on a white disk, outer feather on each 
side wholly white ; bill dusky ; feet reddish brown. Young — throat 
dull white, mottled with dusky and tinged with red ; upper feathers 
tipped with dull yellow. Length twelve and a half inches. Eggs olive- 
brown to stone buff, blotched and spotted with dusky black. 

The Peewit, or Green Plover, as it is sometimes called, is among 
the best known birds indigenous to the British Isles. This 
notoriety it owes to several causes. The lengthened feathers on 
the back of its head, forming a crest, at once distinguish it from 
every other British Wader. Its peculiar flight, consisting of a 
series of wide slow flappings with its singularly rounded wings, 
furnishes a character by which it may be recognized at a great 
distance ; and its strange note, resembling the word ' peweet ' 
uttered in a high screaming tone, cannot be mistaken for the note 
of any other bird. In London and other large towns of England 
its eggs also are well known to most people ; for ' Plovers' eggs ', 
as they are called, are considered great delicacies. 

Peewits are found in abundance in most parts of Europe and Asia 
from Ireland to Japan. They are essentially Plovers in all their 
habits, except, perhaps, that they do not run so rapidly as some 
others of the tribe. They inhabit the high grounds in open countries, 
the borders of lakes and marshes and low unenclosed wastes, and 
may not unfrequently be seen in the large meadows, which in 
some districts extend from the banks of rivers. They are partially 
migratory ; hence they may appear at a certain season in some 
particular spot, and be entirely lost sight of for manj 



*4i OYSTER CATCHER 

months. Individuals which have been bred in high latitudes are 
more precise in their periods of migration than those bred in the 
south. In Kamtschatka, for Instance, their southern migration 
is so regular that the month of October has received the name of 
the ' Lapwing month '. In Britain their wanderings are both more 
uncertain and limited ; for, though they assemble in flocks in autumn, 
they only migrate from exposed localities to spots which, being 
more sheltered, afford them a better supply of food. 

In April and May these birds deposit their eggs, making no further 
preparation than that of bringing together a few stalks and placing 
them in a shallow depression in the ground. The number of eggs is 
always four, and they are placed in the order so common among the 
Waders, crosswise. Lapwings are to a certain extent social ,even 
in the breeding season, in so far that a considerable number usually 
frequent the same marsh or common. It is at this season that 
they utter most frequently their characteristic cry, a note which is 
never musical, and heard by the lonely traveller (as has happened 
to myself more than once by night) is particularly wild, harsh, and 
dispiriting. Now, too, one may approach near enough to them to 
notice the winnowing movement of their wings, which has given 
them the name of Lapwing in England and Vanneau in France 
(from van, a fan). The young are able to run as soon as they have 
burst the shell, and follow their parents to damp ground, where 
worms, slugs, and insects are most abundant. When the young 
have acquired the use of their wings, the families of a district unite 
into flocks. They are then very wary, and can rarely be approached 
without difficulty ; but as they are considered good eating, many 
of them fall before the fowler. 



OYSTER CATCHER 

REMATOPUS OSTRATEGUS 

The plumage of this species is entirely black and white ; head, 
neck, scapulars and terminal half of the tail black ; rump, upper 
tail-coverts white ; legs and toes pink ; eyelids crimson. Length, 
sixteen inches. The young have the feathers of the back and 
wings margined with brown. The Oyster Catcher inhabits the 
shores of Great Britain and Ireland throughout the year. The 
first time I came upon a flock of these birds I was able to approach 
them nearer than on any other occasion. They frequently uttered 
a harsh note in a high key which, though unmusical, harmonized 
well with the scenery. I had many other opportunities of 
observing them on the shores of the Scottish lochs, and I was 



OYSTER CATCHER 249 

once induced, on the recommendation of a friend, to have one 
served up for dinner as an agreeable variation from the bacon and 
herrings which mainly constitute the dietary of a Scottish fishing- 
village inn. But I did not repeat the experiment, preferring fish 
pure and simple to fish served up through the medium of a fowl. 
The nature of its food sufficiently accounts for its strong flavour. 
Oyster Catchers frequent rocky promontories or the broad banks 
of mud, sand, and ooze, which stretch out from low portions of 
the coast. Here they feed on mussels and other bivalves, limpets, 
worms, Crustacea, and small fish ; mixing freely with other birds 
while on the ground, but keeping to themselves while performing 
their flights. In their mode of using their wings they remind the 
spectator of Ducks rather than of Plovers, and they advance in 
a line, sometimes in single file, one after another, but more fre- 
quently wing by wing. When they alight, too, it is not with a 
circular sweep, but with a sailing movement. When the mud- 
banks are covered by the tide they move to a short distance 
inland, and pick up slugs and insects in the meadows, or betake 
themselves to salt marshes and rocky headlands. They have also 
been observed many miles away from the coast ; but this is a rare 
occurrence. Their nest is generally a slight depression among 
the shingle above high-water mark ; but on rocky shores they 
make an attempt at a nest, collecting a few blades of grass and 
scraps of sea-weed. They lay three or four eggs, and the young 
are able to run soon after breaking the sheU. 

In high latitudes Oyster Catchers are migratory, leaving their 
breeding grounds in autumn, and returning in the spring ; con- 
sequently, those coasts from which they never depart afford an 
asylum in winter to vast numbers of strangers, in addition to their 
native population. On the coast of Norfolk, for example, they 
are to be seen in small parties all through the summer ; but in 
winter, especially if it be a severe one, they may be reckoned by 
thousands. They here seem to have favourite spots on which to 
pass the night. One of these is what is called the " Eastern point " 
of Brancaster Marsh, a place of perfect security, for it is difficult 
of access under any circumstances, and cannot be approached at 
aU with any chance of concealment on the part of the intruder. 
Towards this point I have seen line after line winging their way, 
all about the same hour, just before sunset, all following the line 
of the coast, but taking care to keep well out at sea, and all ad- 
vancing with perfect regularity, every individual in a company 
being at the same height above the water. They are very wary 
at this season, insomuch that though I must have seen many 
thousands, and examined upwards of twenty species of sea-shore 
birds, which had been shot in the neighbourhood, not a single 
Oyster Catcher was brought to me. 

A common name for this bird is Sea-pie, another appropriate 



«50 THE TURNSTONE 

one Is ' Mussel picker ' ; and it is thought that ' Catcher ' comes 
from the Dutch ackster (magpie). The note is a shrill keep, keep. 
It swims well, and sometimes it will take to the water of its own 
accord. Although the nest is commonly on shingle or among 
sand-hills, or a tussock of sea-pink on a narrow ledge of rock, Mr. 
Howard Saunders has seen eggs of this bird in the emptied nest of 
a Herring-gull and on the summit of a lofty ' stack.' 



THE TURNSTONE 

STRJ&PSILAS INTfeRPRES 

Crown reddish white, with longitudinal black streaks ; upper part of the back, 

scapulars, and wing-coverts, rusty brown, spotted with black ; rest of the 
plumage variegated with black and white ; bill and irides black ; feet 
orange-yellow. Length nine inches. Eggs greenish-grey, blotched 
and spotted with slate and brown. 

THETurnstone is a regular annual visitor tothe shores of Great Britain, 
and indeed of almost every other country, having been observed 
as far north as Greenland, and as far south as the Straits of Magellan ; 
but it is rarely inland. It arrives on our coasts about the be- 
ginning of August, not in large flocks like the Plovers, but in small 
parties, each of which, it is conjectured, constitutes a family. It 
is a bird of elegant form and beautiful parti-coloured plumage, 
active in its habits, a nimble runner, and an indefatigable hunter 
after food. In size it is intermediate between the Grey Plover 
and Sanderling, being about as big as a Thrush. The former of 
these birds it resembles in its disposition to feed in company with 
birds of different species, and its impatience of the approach of 
man. For this latter reason it does not often happen that any 
one can get near enough to these birds to watch their manoeuvres 
whUe engaged in the occupation from which they have derived 
their name, though their industry is often apparent from the num- 
ber of pebbles and shells found dislodged from their socket on the 
sands where a family has been feeding. Audubon, who had the 
good fortune to fall in with a party on a retired sea-coast, where, 
owang to the rare appearance of human beings, they were less fearful 
than is their wont, describes their operations with his usual felicity : 
" They were not more than fifteen or twenty yards distant, and I 
was delighted to see the ingenuity with which they turned over 
the oyster-sheUs, clods of mud, and other smaU bodies left exposed 
by the retiring tide. Whenever the object was not too large, the 
bird bent its legs to half their length, placed its biU beneath it, and 



THE TURNSTONE 25 1 

with a sudden quick jerk of the head pushed it off, when it quickly 
picked up the food which was thus exposed to view, and walked 
deliberately to the next shell to perform the same operation. In 
several instances, when the clusters of oyster -shells or clods of 
mud were too heavy to be removed in the ordinary way, they would 
not only use the bill and head, but also the breast, pushing the 
object with all their strength, and reminding me of the labour 
which I have undergone in turning over a large turtle. Among the 
seaweeds that had been cast on shore, they used only the biU, 
tossing the garbage from side to side with a dexterity extremely 
pleasant to behold.^ In like manner I saw there four Turnstones 
examine almost every part of the shore along a space of from thirty 
to forty yards ; after which I drove them away, that our hunters 
might not Idll them on their return." 

A writer in the Zoologist ^ gives an equally interesting account 
of the successful efforts of two Turnstones to turn over the dead 
body of a cod-fish, nearly three and a half feet long, which had 
been imbedded in the sand to about the depth of two inches. 

For an account of the habits of the Turnstone during the 
breeding season — it never breeds with us — we are indebted to Mr. 
Hewitson, who fell in with it on the coast of Norway. He says, 
' We had visited numerous islands with Uttle encouragement, and 
were about to land upon a flat rock, bare, except where here and 
there grew tufts of grass or stunted juniper clinging to its surface, 
when our attention was attracted by the singular cry of a Turnstone, 
which in its eager watch had seen our approach, and perched itself 
upon an eminence of the rock, assuring us, by its querulous oft- 
repeated note and anxious motions, that its nest was there. We 
remained in the boat a short time, until we had watched it behind 
a tuft of grass, near which, after a minute search, we succeeded in 
finding the nest in a situation in which I should never have expected 
to meet a bird of this sort breeding ; it was placed against a ledge 
of the rock, and consisted of nothing more than the dropping leaves 
of the juniper bush, under a creeping branch of which the eggs, 
four in number, were snugly concealed, and admirably sheltered 
from the many storms by which these bleak and exposed rocks are 
visited. 

^ From this habit, the Turnstone is in Norfolk called a ' Tangie-picker '.— 
C. A. J. 

" Vol. ix. p. 3077. 



«Sa THE AVOCET 



FAMILY SCOLOPACID^ 
THE AVOCET 

RECURVIROSTRA AVOCfexTA 

General plnmag;e white ; crown, nape, scapulars, lesser wing-coverts, and 
primaries, black ; bill black ; irides reddish brown ; feet bluish ash. 
Length eighteen inches. Eggs olive-brown, blotched and spotted with 
dusky. 

This bird has become so rare, that having recently applied to two 
several collectors in Norfolk, once the headquarters of the Avocet, 
to know if they could procure me a specimen, I was told by one that 
they were not seen oftener than once in seven years — by the other, 
that it was very rare, and if attainable at all could not be purchased 
for less than five pounds. In Ray's time it was not unfrequent on 
the eastern maritime coasts. Small flocks still arrive in May and now 
and again in the autumn, but collectors never allow them to breed. 
They used to rest on the flat shores of Kent and Sussex. Sir 
Thomas Browne says of it : ' Avoseta, called shoeing horn, a tall 
black and white bird, with a bill semicircularly reclining or bowed 
upward ; so that it is not easy to conceive how it can feed ; a 
summer marsh bird, and not unfrequent in marsh land.' Pennant, 
writing of the same bird, says : ' These birds are frequent in the 
winter on the shores of this kingdom ; in Gloucestershire, at the 
Severn's mouth ; and sometimes on the lakes of Shropshire. We 
have seen them in considerable numbers in the breeding season near 
Fossdike Wash, in Lincolnshire. Like the Lapwing, when disturbed, 
they flew over our heads, carrying their necks and long legs quite 
extended, and made a shrill noise [twit) twice repeated, during the 
whole time. The country people for this reason call them Yelpers, 
and sometimes distinguish them by the name of Picarini. They 
feed on worms and insects, which they suck with their bills out of 
the sand ; their search after food is frequently to be discovered 
on our shores by alternate semicircular marks in the sand, which 
show their progress.^ They lay three or four eggs, about the size of 
those of a Pigeon, white, tinged with green and marked with large 
black spots.' Even so recent an authority as Yarrell remembers 
having found in the marshes near Rye a young one of this species, 
which appeared to have just been hatched ; he took it up in his 
hands, wlnle the old birds kept flying round him. 
The Avocet is met with throughout a great part of the Old World, 

* It is not a little singular that the Spoonbill, a bird which strongly con- 
trasts with the Avocet in the form of its bill, ploughs the sand from one side 
to another, while hunting for its food. 



THE RED-NECKED PHALAROPE 853 

and is said to be not unfrequent in Holland and France. A writer 
of the latter country says that ' by aid of its webbed feet it is enabled 
to travei-se, without sinking, the softest and wettest mud ; this it 
searches with its curved bill, and when it has discovered any prey, 
a worm for instance, it throws it adroitly into the air, and catches 
it with its beak'. 



THE GREY PHALAROPE 

phalAropus fulicarius 

Winter — plumage in front and beneath white ; back of the head, ear-coverts, 
and a streak down the nape, dusky ; back pearl-grey, the feathers dusky 
in the centre, a white transverse bar on the wings ; tail-feathers brown, 
edged with ash ; bill brown, yellowish red at the base ; irides reddish 
yellow ; feet greenish ash. Summer — head dusky ; face and nape 
white ; feathers of the back dusky, bordered with orange-brown ; front 
and lower plumage brick-red. Length eight inches and a half. Eggs 
greenish stone colour, blotched and spotted with dusky. 

The Grey Phalarope, without being one of our rarest birds, is not 
of irregular occurrence. Its proper home is in the Arctic regions, 
from whence it migrates southward in winter. It is a bird of varied 
accomplishments, flying rapidly like the Snipes, running after the 
fashion of the Sandpipers, and swimming with the facility of the 
Ducks. In all these respects it does not belie its appearance, its 
structure being such that a naturalist would expect, d priori, that 
these were its habits. During the breeding season, the Phalarope 
quits the sea, its usual haunt, and repairs to the seashore, where it 
builds a neat nest, in a hoUow of the ground, with grass and other 
weeds, and lays four eggs. The usual time of its appearance in 
Great Britain is autumn ; sometimes it comes then in nmnbers ; 
but specimens have been obtained in winter. On all these occasions 
it has shown itself singularly fearless of man. 



THE RED-NECKED PHALAROPE 

PHALAROPUS HYPERBOREUS 

Head deep ash-grey ; throat white ; neck bright rust-red ; under p!umage 
white, blotched on the flanks with ash ; back black, the feathers bordered 
with rust-red ; a white bar across the wing ; two middle tail-feathers 
black, the rest ash, edged with white ; bill black ; irides brown ; feet 
greenish ash. Length seven inches. Eggs dark olive, closely spotted 
with black. 

The Red-necked Phalarope, or Lobefoot, is, like the preceding 
species, an inhabitant of the Arctic regions, but extends its circle 



954 THE WOODCOCK 

ol residence so far as to include the Orkney Islands, in which numer- 
ous specimens have been obtained. It builds its nest of grass, in 
the marshes or on the islands in the lakes, and lays four eggs. The 
most marked habit of these birds seems to be that of alighting at 
sea on beds of floating seaweed, and indifferently swimming about 
in search of food, or running, with light and nimble pace, after the 
manner of a Wagtail. They are often met with thus employed at 
the distance of a hundred miles from land. They are described as 
being exceedingly tame, taking little notice of the vicinity of men, 
and unaffected by the report of a gun. 



THE WOODCOCK 

SC6loPAX RUSTfCOLA 

Back of the head barred transversely with dusky ; upper plumage mottled 
with chestnut, yellow, ash, and black ; lower reddish yellow, with brown 
zigzag lines ; quills barred on their outer web with rust-red and black ; 
tail of twelve feathers tipped above with grey, below with silvery white ; 
bill flesh-colour ; feet livid. Length thirteen inches. Eggs dirty yellow, 
blotched and spotted with brown and grey. 

The history of the Woodcock as a visitor in the British Isles is briefly 
as follows : Woodcocks come to us from the south in autumn, the 
earliest being annually observed about the twentieth of October. On 
their first arrival, they are generally found to be in bad condition ; so 
weak, in fact, that I recollect many instances of flights having 
reached the coasts of Cornwall, only able to gain the land. Their 
condition at these times is one of extreme exhaustion ; and they 
become the prey, not only of the sportsman, but are knocked down 
with a stick, or caught alive. In the course of a very few days 
they are enabled to recruit their strength, when they make their 
way inland. They have been known even to settle on the deck of 
a ship at sea, in order to rest ; or actually to alight for a few moments 
in the smooth water of the ship's wake. Their usual places of 
resort by day are woods and coppices in hilly districts, whither they 
repair for shelter and concealment. Disliking cold, they select, 
in preference, the side of a valley which is least exposed to the wind ; 
and though they never perch on a branch, they prefer the conceal- 
ment afforded by trees to that of any other covert. There, crouch- 
ing under a holly, or among briers and thorns, they spend the day 
in inactivity, guarded from molestation by their stillness, and by 
the rich brown tint of their plumage, which can hardly be distin- 
guished from dead leaves. Their large prominent bead-like eyes 
are alf;ne likely to betray them ; and this, jt is said, is sometimes 



THE WOODCOCK 155 

the case. So conscious do they seem that their great security lies In 
concealment, that they wUl remain motionless until a dog is almost 
on them or until the beater reaches the very bush under which they 
are crouching. When at length roused, they start up with a whirr, 
winding and twisting through the overhanging boughs, and make 
for the nearest open place ahead ; now, however, flying in almost a 
straight line, till discovering another convenient lurking-place, 
they descend suddenly, to be ' marked ' for another shot. About 
twilight, the Woodcock awakens out of its lethargy, and repairs 
to its feeding-ground. Observation having shown that on these 
occasions it does not trouble itself to mount above the trees before 
it starts, but makes for the nearest clear place in the wood through 
which it gains the open country, fowlers were formerly in the habit 
of erecting in glades in the woods, two high poles, from which was 
suspended a fme net. This was so placed as to hang across the 
course which the birds were likely to take, and when a cock flew 
against it, the net was suddenly made to drop by the concealed 
fowler, and the bird caught, entangled in the meshes. Not many 
years ago, these nets were commonly employed in the woods, near 
the coast of the north of Devon, and they are said still to be in use 
on the Continent. The passages through which the birds flew 
were known by the name of ' cockroads ', and ' cockshoots '. 

The localities which Woodcocks most frequent are places which 
abound in earthworms, their favourite food. These they obtain 
either by turning over lumps of decaying vegetable matter and 
picking up the scattered worms, or by thrusting their bills into the 
soft earth, where (guided by scent it is supposed) they speedily find 
any worm Ijnng hid, and having drawn it out, swallow it whole, 
with much dexterity. When the earth is frozen hard, they shift 
their ground, repairing to the neighbourhood of the sea, or of springs ; 
and now, probably, they are less select in their diet, feeding on any 
living animal matter that may fall in their way. In March they 
change their quarters again, preparatory to quitting the country ; 
hence it often happens that considerable numbers are seen at this 
season in places where none had been observed during the previous 
winter. They now have a call-note, though before they have been 
quite mute ; it is said by some to resemble the syllables pitt-pitt- 
coor, by others to be very like the croak of a frog. The French have 
invented the verb crouler, to express it, and distinguish Woodcock 
shooting by the name croule. Some sportsmen wisely recommend 
that no Woodcock should be shot after the middle of February ; for it 
has been ascertained that increasing numbers of these remain for 
the purpose of breeding in this country ; and it is conjectured, with 
reason, that if they were left undisturbed in their spring haunts, 
they would remain in yet larger numbers. As it is, there are few 
counties in England in which their nest has not been discovered ; 
and there are some few localities in which it Is one of the pleasant 



2$6 THE GREAT SNIPE 

sights of the evening, at all seasons of the year, to watch the Wood- 
cocks repairing from the woods to their accustomed feeding- 
ground. 

The nest is built of dry leaves, principally of fern, and placed 
among dead grass, in dry, warm situations, and contains four eggs, 
which, unlike those of the Snipes, are nearly equally rounded at 
each end. 

There have been recorded numerous instances in which a 
Woodcock has been seen carrying its young through the air to 
water, holding the nestling between her thighs pressed close to her 
body. 

During Its flight, the Woodcock invariably holds its beak pointed 
in a direction towards the ground. Young birds taken from the 
nest are easily reared ; and afford much amusement by the skill 
they display in extracting worms from sods with which they are 
supplied. The Woodcock is found in all countries of the eastern 
hemisphere where trees grow ; but it is only met as a straggler 
on the Atlantic coast of the United States. 



THE GREAT SNIPE 

GALLINAGO MAJOR 

Crown black, divided longitudinally by a yellowish white band ; a streak of 
the same colour over each eye ; from the beak to the eye a streak of dark 
brown ; upper plumage mottled with black and chestnut-brown, some 
of the feathers edged with straw-colour ; greater wing-coverts tipped 
with white ; under parts whitish, spotted and barred with black ; tail 
of sixteen feathers ; bill brown, flesh-coloured at the base. Length 
eleven and a half inches. Eggs brownish olive, spotted with reddish 
brown. 

The Great Snipe, Solitary Snipe or Double Snipe, Is intermediate 
in size between the Woodcock and Common Snipe. Though not 
among the rarest of our visitants, it is far from common. It is, 
however, an annual visitor, and is seen most frequently in the 
eastern counties in the autumn. Its principal resorts are low damp 
meadows and grassy places near marshes, but it does not frequent 
swamps like its congeners. This difference in its haunts impUes a 
different diet, and this bird, it is stated, feeds principally on the larvae 
or grubs of Tipulse (known by the common name of Father Daddy- 
Long -legs), which are in summer such voracious feeders on the roots 
of grass. It breeds in the northern countries of Europe, and in 
some parts of Sweden is so abundant that as many as fifty have 




■J^^J^^^""^^^ 



r^"^/ 






Great Znipc 
Common Snipe 



Tack Snioe ^' 
Woodcock g 



Uate p. 256. 











KnotcT 



Wood Sandpiper. 



Whimbrel (? 



Sanderling $ 



THE COMMON SNIPE 257 

been shot in a day. When disturbed on its feeding-ground, it rises 
without uttering any note, and usually drops in again, at no great 
distance, after the manner of the Jack Snipe. It may be distin- 
guished by its larger size, and by carrying its tail spread like a fan. 
In the northern countries where it breeds it is found most commonly 
in the meadows after hay-harvest, and as it is much prized for the 
delicacy of its flesh it is a favourite object of sport. It is remarkable 
for being always in exceedingly good condition, a remark which 
applies to specimens procured in this country as weU as those shot 
in Sweden. The nest, which has rarely been seen, is placed in a 
tuft of grass, and contains four eggs. The Zoologist once mentioned 
the fact of four solitary Snipes being killed in the county of Durham 
in August, and two of these were young birds, scarcely fledged. 



THE COMMON SNIPE 



GALLIN.\GO C^LESTIS 



Upper plumage very like the last ; chin and throat reddish white ; lower parts 
white, without spots ; flanks barred transversely with white and dusky ; 
tail of fourteen feathers. Length eleven and a half inches. Eggs light 
greenish yellow, spotted with brown and ash. 

The Common Snipe is a bird of very general distribution, being 
found in aU parts of the eastern hemisphere, from Ireland to Japan, 
and from Siberia to the Cape of Good Hope. It is common also 
in many parts of America, especially Carolina, and is frequent in 
many of the American islands. In Britain, Snipes are most numer- 
ous in the winter, their numbers being then increased by arrivals 
from high latitudes, from which they are driven by the impossi- 
bility of boring for food in ground hardened by frost or buried be- 
neath snow. In September and October large floclffi of these birds 
arrive in the marshy districts of England, stopping sometimes for 
a short time only, and then proceeding onwards ; but being like 
many other birds, gregarious at no other time than when making 
their migrations, when they have arrived at a district where they 
intend to take up their residence, they scatter themselves over 
marsh land, remaining in each other's neighbourhood perhaps, but 
showing no tendency to flock together. Their food consists of the 
creeping things which live in mud, and to this, it is said by some, 
they add small seeds and fine vegetable fibre ; but it is questionable 
whether this kind of food is not swallowed by accident, mixed up 
with more nourishing diet. The end of their beak is furnished 
with a soft pulpy membrane, which in all probability is highly 

B.B. " S 



25S THE COMMON SNIPE 

sensitive, and enables the bird to discover by the touch the worms 
which, being buried in mud, are concealed from its sight. Snipes 
when disturbed always fly against the wind, so when suddenly 
scared from their feeding-ground, and compelled to rise without 
any previous intention on their part, they seem at first uncertain 
which course to take, but twist and turn without making much 
progress in any direction ; but in a few seconds, having decided on 
their movements, they dart away with great rapidity, uttering at 
the same time a sharp cry of two notes, which is dithcult to describe, 
but once heard can scarcely be mistaken. When a bird on such 
an occasion is fired at, it often happens that a number of others, 
who have been similarly occupied, rise at the report, and after 
having performed a few mazy evolutions, dart off in the way 
described. At other times they he so close that beween the sportsman 
and the bird which he has just killed there may be others concealed, 
either unconscious of danger, or trusting for security to their powers 
of lying hid. This tendency to lie close, or the reverse, depends 
much on the weather, though why it should be so seems not to have 
been decided. But the movements of Snipes generally are governed 
by laws of which we know little or nothing. At one season they 
will be numerous in a certain marsh ; the next year perhaps not 
one wUl visit the spot ; to-day, they will swarm in a given locality ; 
a night's frost will drive them all away, and a change of wind a few 
days after will bring them all back again. If very severe weather 
sets in they entirely withdraw, but of this the reason is obvious ; 
the frozen state of the marsh puts a stop to their feeding. They 
then retire to milder districts, to springs which are never frozen, 
to warm nooks near the sea, or to salt marshes. Perhaps the 
majority perform a second migration southwards ; for, as a rule, 
they are most numerous at the two periods of autumn and spring — 
that is, while on their way to and from some distant winter- 
quarters. After March they become far less frequent, yet there 
are few extensive marshes, especially in Scotland and the north of 
England, where some do not remain to breed. At this season a 
striking change in their habits makes itself perceptible. A nest is 
built of withered grass, sometimes under the shelter of a tuft of 
heath or reeds, and here the female sits closely on four eggs. The 
male, meanwhile, is feeding in some neighbouring swamp, and if 
disturbed, instead of making off with his zig-zag winter's flight, 
utters his well-remembered note and ascends at a rapid rate into 
the air, now ascending with a rapid vibration of wing, wheeling, 
falling like a parachute, mounting again, and once more descending 
with fluttering wings, uttering repeatedly a note different from his 
cry of alarm, intermixed with a dnmiming kind of noise, which 
has been compared to the bleat of a goat. This last sound is pro- 
duced by the action of the wings, assisted by the tail-feathers, in his 
descents. One of its French names is Chevre volant, flying goat, and 



THE JACK SNIPE 259 

the Scottish name ' Heather-bleater ', was also given to it as descrip- 
tive of its peculiar summer note. The female sits closely on her 
eggs, and if disturbed while in charge of her yet unfledged brood, 
endeavours to distract the attention of an intruder from them to 
herself by the artifice already described as being employed by others 
of the Waders, 

' Sabine's SnipeJ', which was at one time thought to be a distinct 
species, is now admitted to be a melanism, a dark variety of the 
Common Snipe, recent examination of specimens having proved 
that its tail contains fourteen feathers and not twelve only, as was 
supposed. It is seldom found outside Great Britain. 



THE JACK SNIPE 

GALLINAGO GALLINULA 

Crown divided longitudinally by a black band edged with reddish brown ; 
beneath this on either side a parallel yellowish band reaching from the 
bill to the nape ; back beautifully mottled with buff, reddish brown, and 
black, the latter lustrous with green and purple ; neck and breast spotted ; 
belly and abdomen pure white ; tail of twelve feathers, dusky edged 
with reddish grey ; bill dusky, lighter towards the base. Length eight 
and a half inches. Eggs yellowish olive, spotted with brown. 

As the Great Snipe has been called the Double Snipe, on account 
of its being superior in size to the common species, so the subject 
of the present chapter is known as the Half Snipe, from being con- 
trasted with the same bird, and being considerably smaller. The 
present species is far less abundant than the Common Snipe ; yet 
stni it is often seen, more frequently, perhaps, than the other, by 
non-sporting observers, for it frequents not only downright marshes, 
but the little streams which meander through meadows, the sides 
of grassy ponds, and the drains by the side of canals, where the 
ordinary pedestrian, if accompanied by a dog, will be very likely 
to put one up. Its food and general habits are much the same as 
those of the Common Snipe ; but it rises and flies off without any 
note. Its flight is singularly crooked until it has made up its mind 
which direction it intends to take ; indeed it seems to decide even- 
tually on the one which was at first most unlikely to be its path, 
and after having made a short round composed of a series of dis- 
jointed curves, it either returns close to the spot from which it was 
started, or suddenly drops, as by a sudden impulse, into a ditch a 
few gunshots off. I have seen one drop thus within twenty yards 
of the spot where I stood, and though I threw upwards of a dozen 
stones into the place where I saw it go down, it took no notice of 
them. It was only by walking down the side of the ditch, beating 
the rushes with a stick, that I induced it to rise again. It then 



26o THE SANDERLING 

flow off in the same way as before, and dropped into the little stream 
from which I had first started it. 

From this habit of lying so close as to rise under the very feet of 
the passenger, as well as from its silence, it is called in France la 
Sourde, ' deaf '. In the same country it is known also as ' St. 
Martin's Snipe ', from the time of its arrival in that country, Novem- 
ber II ; with us it is an earlier visitor, coming about the second week 
in September. 

A few instances are recorded of the Jack Snipe having been seen 
in this country at a season which would lead to the inference that 
it occasionally breeds here ; but no instance of its doing so has been 
ascertained as a fact. 



THE SANDERLING 

CALIDRIS ARENARIA 

Winter — npper plumage and sides of the neck whitish ash ; cheeks and all 
the under plumage, pure white ; bend and edge of the wing and quills 
blackish grey ; tail deep grey, edged with white ; bill, irides, and feet, 
black. Summer — cheeks and crown black, mottled with rust-red and 
white ; neck and breast reddish ash with black and white spots ; back 
and scapulars deep rust-red, spotted with black, all the feathers edged 
and tipped with white ; wing-coverts dusky, with reddish lines, and 
tipped with white ; two middle tail-feathers dusky, with reddish edges. 
Young in autumn — cheeks, head, nape, and back variously mottled 
with black, brown, grey, rust-red and dull white. Length eight inches. 
Eggs olive, spotted and speckled with black. 

The early flocks of Sandcrlings often consist of old as well as young 
birds, which is not the common rvile with Waders. They are plenti- 
ful on our sandy shores, and they sometimes visit inland waters. 
By April the return passage begins. The note is a shrill wick ! 
They arrive on our shores early in autumn, keeping together in 
small flocks, or joining the company of Dunlins, or Ringed Plovers. 
In spring they mthdraw to high latitudes, where they breed ; 
they are not, however, long absent. YarreU mentions his having 
obtained specimens as late as April and June, and I have myself 
obtained them as early as the end of July, having shot at Hunstan- 
ton, on the coast of Norfolk, several young birds of the year, on the 
twenty-third of that month ; and on another occasion I obtained a 
specimen on the sands of Abergele, in North Wales, in August. This 
leaves so very short a time for incubation and the fledging of the 
young, that it is probable that a few birds, at least, remain to breed in 
this country, or do not retire very far north. Little is known of their 
habits during the season of incubation, but they are said to make 
their nests in the marshes, of grass, and to lay four eggs. 

Like many other shore birds, they have an extensive geographical 
range, and are found in all latitudes, both in the eastern and western 
hemispheres. 



THE KNOT 96l 

THE CURLEW SANDPIPER 

TRINGA SUBARQUATA 

Bill curved downwards, much longer than the head. Winter — upper tail- 
coverts and all the under parts white ; upper plumage ash- brown, 
mottled with darker brown and whitish ; breast the same colours, but 
much lighter ; bill black ; iris brown ; feet dusky. Summer — crown 
black, mottled with reddish ; under plumage chestnut-red, speckled 
with brown and white ; much of the upper plumage black, mottled with 
red and ash. Length seven and a half inches. Eggs yellowish, with 
brown spots. 

This bird, called also the Pigmy Curlew, is of about the same size 
as the far commoner Dunlin, from which it is distinguished not 
only by the difference in the colour of its plumage, but by the greater 
length of its beak, which is curved downwards. Pigmy Curlews 
are observed from time to time in this country at the periods of 
autumn and spring, and it is said that a few remain with us to 
breed, but their nest and eggs have never been detected. In their 
habits they resemble the Dunlins, from which they may readily 
be distinguished, even when fl)^g, by their white upper tail- 
coverts. They are of wide geographical range, but nowhere 
abundant, and visit us on passage in spring and autumn. 



THE KNOT 

TRINGA CANl^TUS 

Beak straight, a little longer than the head, much dilated towards the tip; 
tail even at the extremity ; a small part of the tibia naked. Winter — 
throat and abdomen white ; breast and flanks white, barred with ash- 
brown ; upper plumage ash-grey, mottled with brown ; wing-coverts 
tipped with white ; rump and upper tail-coverts white, with black 
crescents ; bill and legs greenish black. Summer — streak over the eye, 
nape, and all the under plumage, rusty-red, the nape streaked with black ; 
back streaked and spotted with black, red, and grey. The upper 
plumage of young birds is mottled with reddish brown, grey, black, and 
dull white ; legs dull green. Length ten inches. Eggs unknown. 

The Knot, Willughby informs us, is so called from having been 
a favourite dish of King Canutus, or Knute. It is a migratory 
bird, visituig the coasts of Great Britain early in autumn, and 
remaining here till spring, when it retires northwards to breed. 
During the intervening months it keeps exclusively to the sandy 
or muddy seashore, assembling in smaU flocks, and mixing freely 
with Dunlins, Sanderlings, and Purple Sandpipers. Some authors 
state that it feeds principally early and late in the day, and during 
moonlight nights ; but I have seen it on the coast of Norfolk in 
winter feeding', at all hours of the day in company with the birds 
mentioned above, and differing little from them in the mode of 
obtaining its food. But I remarked on several occasions that. 



««• THE DUNLIN 

when a flock was disturbed, the Knots often remained behind, 
being less fearful of the presence of man ; in consequence of which 
tardiness in rising they more than once fell to our guns after their 
companions had flown off. On their first arrival, they are said to 
be so indifferent to the vicinity of human beings that it is not difficult 
to knock them down with stones. Their provincial name in Nor- 
folk is the Green-legged Shank, the latter name. Shank, being 
applied for shortness to the Redshank. Dr. Richardson states that 
' Knots were observed breeding on Melville Peninsula by Captain 
Lyon, who tells us that they lay four eggs on a tuft of withered grass, 
without being at the pains of forming any nest.' 

Flocks of young make their appearance early in August, the 
adults arriving a little later. 

THE DUNLIN 

TRINGA ALPINA 

Bill a little longer than the head, slightly bent down at the tip ; two middle 
tail-feathers the longest, dusky and pointed ; a small part of the 
tibia naked. Winter — throat and a streak between the bill and eye 
white ; upper plumage ash-brown streaked with dusky ; upper tail- 
coverts dusky ; lateral tail-feathers ash, edged with white ; breast 
greyish white, mottled with brown ; bill black ; feet dusky. Summer — 
most of the upper plumage black, edged with rust-red ; belly and abdo- 
men black. Young birds have the upper plumage variously mottled 
with ash-brown, dusky, and reddish yellow ; the bill is shorter and 
straight. Length eight inches. Eggs greenish white, blotched and 
spotted with brown. 

The name variabilis, changeable, has been applied to this species 
of Sandpiper on account of the great difference between its summer 
and winter plumage. It was formerly, indeed, supposed that the 
two states of the bird were distinct species ; of which the former 
was called Dunlin, the latter Purre. It is now known that the two 
are identical, the bird being commonly found to assume in spring 
and autumn colours intermediate between the two. 

Except during the three summer months, May, June, and July, the 
Dunlin is common on all the shores of Great Britain, where there aie 
extensive reaches of sand or mud. I have obtained specimens on 
the coast of Norfolk as early as the twenty-fifth of July; but, gener- 
ally, it is not until the following month that they become numerous. 
From this time until late in the winter they are reinforced by con- 
stant additions ; and in very severe weather the flocks are increased 
to such an extent that, if it were possible to number them, they 
would be probably found to contain very many thousands. Such 
a season was the memorable winter of 1860-61, when, during the 
coldest part of it, I made an excursion to the coast of Norfolk for 
the purpose of observing the habits of the seaside Grallatores and 
Natatores which, in winter, resort to that coast. Numerous as 





^^ 






^' 



Dunlin 2 df 



Little Stint. 
Cream-coloured Courser. 



Temminck's Stint o 



I face p. 86-2 







Green Sandpiper ? 
Common Sandpiper 2 



Purple Sandpiper^ 

Curlew Sandpiper. 



THE DUNLIN 963 

were the species and individuals of these birds which then flocked 
to tlie beach and salt-marshes, I have no doubt, in my own mind, 
that they were all outnumbered by Dunlins alone. Of nearly 
every flock that I saw feeding on the wet sand or mud, fully half 
were Dunlins ; many flocks were composed of these birds alone ; 
while of those which were constantly flying by, without alighting, 
the proportion o'f Dunlins to all other birds was, at least, three 
to one. Added to which, while the parties of other birds were 
susceptible of being approximately counted, the individuals which 
composed a flock of Dunlins were often innumerable. 

At one time, we saw in the distance, several miles off, a light 
cloud, as of smoke from a factory chimney : it moved rapidly, 
suddenly disappeared, and as suddenly again became visible. This 
was an enormous flock of Dunlins, consisting of many thousands 
at least. They did not come very near us ; but smaller flocks 
which flew about in our immediate vicinity presented a similar 
appearance. As the upper surface of their bodies was turned 
towards us, they were of a dark hue ; suddenly they wheeled in 
their flight as if the swarm was steered by a single will, when they 
disappeared ; but instantaneously revealed themselves again flying 
in a different direction, and reflected glittering snowy white. 

Dunlins, while feeding, show a devoted attention to their occupa- 
tion, which is not often to be observed in land birds. They run 
rapidly, looking intently on the ground, now stopping to pick up 
some scrap of animal matter which lies on the surface of the sand, 
now boring for living prey where they detect indications of such 
prey lying hid. Occasionally an individual bird appears to suffer 
from lameness, and halts in its progress as if its legs were gouty. 
Frequently they chase a receding wave for the sake of recovering 
a prize which has been swept from the beach : never venturing 
to swim, but showing no fear of wetting either feet or feathers. 
While engaged in these various ways, they often keep up a short 
conversational twitter, in a tone, however, so low that it can only 
be heard at a very short distance. While flying, they frequently 
utter a much louder piping note, which can readily be distinguished 
from the call of the other seaside birds. I observed that a small 
detached flock, when disturbed, generally flew off to a great dis- 
dnce ; but if other birds were feeding in the neighbourhood, they 
more frequently alighted near them, as if assured by their presence 
that no danger was to be apprehended. 

Dunlins have bred in Cornwall and Devon ; but in many parts 
of Scotland, in the Hebrides and Orkneys ' they frequent the haunts 
selected by the Golden Plovers, with which they are so frequently 
seen in company, that they have popularly obtained the name of 
Plovers' Pages. Sometimes before the middle of April, but always 
before that of May, they are seen dispersed over the moors in pairs 
like the birds just named, which, at this season, they greatly re- 



264 PURPLE SANDPIPER 

semble in habits. The nest, which is composed of some bits of 
withered grass, or sedge, and small twigs of heath, is placed in a 
slight hollow, generally on a bare spot, and usually in a dry place, 
like that selected by the Golden Plover. The female lays four eggs, 
and sits very assiduously, often allowing a person to come quite 
close to her before removing, which she does in a fluttering and 
cowering manner.' * 

In a few specimens which I obtained, the biU was considerably 
curved downwards throughout its whole length, thus approaching 
in fonn that of the Pigmy Curlew ; but the dusky upper tail-coverts 
sufficiently distinguished it from its rarer congener. 



PURPLE SANDPIPER 

TRINGA STRIATA 

Bill longer than the head, slightly bent down at the tip, dusky, the base reddish 
orange ; head and neck dusky brown, tinged with grey ; back and 
scapulars black, with purple and violet reflections, the feathers edged 
with deep ash ; breast grey and white ; under plumage white, streaked 
on the flanks with grey ; feet ochre-yellow. Length eight and a quarter 
inches. Eggs yellowish olive, spotted and speckled with reddish brown. 

The Purple Sandpiper is described as being far less common than 
the Dunlin, and differing from it in habits, inasmuch as it resorts 
to the rocky coast in preference to sandy flats. The few specimens 
of it which I have seen were associated with Dunlins, flying in the 
same flocks with them, feeding with them, and so closely resembling 
them in size and movements, that a description of the one equally 
characterizes the other. It was only, in fact, by the difference of 
colour that I could discriminate between them ; and this I did, on 
several occasions, with great ease, having obtained my specimens 
singly while they were surrounded by other birds. According to 
Mr. Dunn, ' The Purple Sandpiper is very numerous in Orkney and 
Shetland, appearing early in spring, and leaving again at the latter 
end of April ; about which time it collects in large flocks, and may 
be found on the rocks at ebb-tide, watching each retiring wave, 
running down as the water falls back, picking small shellfish off 
the stones, and displaying great activity in escaping the advancing 
sea. It does not breed there.' 

This species has a wide geographical range. It has been often 
observed in the Arctic regions, where it breeds. It is well known 
in North America, and is found in various parts of the continent of 
Europe, especially Holland. 

* Macgillivray. 



LirtLE STINT 26s 

TEMMINCK'S STINT 

TRINGA TEMMINCKI 

Bill slightly bent down at the tip, much shorter than the head ; tail gradu- 
ated. Winter — upper plumage brown and dusky ; breast reddish ; 
lower plumage and outer tail-feathers white ; bill and feet brown. 
Summer — All the upper feathers black, bordered with rust-red ; breast 
reddish ash, streaked with black. Length hve and a half inches. Eggs 
unknown. 

Temminck, in whose honour this bird was named, states that it 
' inhabits the Arctic Regions, and is seen on its passage at two 
periods of the year in different parts of Germany, on the banks of 
lakes and rivers ; probably, also, in the interior of France ; never 
along the maritime coasts of Holland ; very rare on the Lake of 
Geneva. Its food consists of small insects. It probably buUds 
its nest very far north.' A few have been killed in England, and 
it occurs in many parts of Asia and in North Africa, but it is nowhere 
abundant, being an irregular visitor, only on migration. 



LITTLE STINT 

TRINGA MINUTA 

Bill straight, shorter than the head ; two middle and two outer feathers of 
the tail longer than the rest (' tail doubly forked ') ; tarsus ten hnes ; 
upper plumage ash and dusky ; a brown streak between the bill and 
the eye ; under plumage white ; outer feathers of the tail ash-brown, 
edged with whitish ; middle ones brown ; bill and feet black. Length 
five and a half inches. Eggs reddish white, spotted with dark red- 
brown. 

A RARE and occasional visitant, appearing from time to time in 
small flocks on the muddy or sandy sea-coast. My friend, the Rev. 
W. S. Hore (to whom I am indebted for many valuable notes, 
incorporated in the text of this volume), obtained several specimens 
of this bird in October, 1840, on the Laira mud banks, near Plymouth, 
In their habits they differed little from the Dunlin. They were at 
first very tame, but after having been fired at became more cautious. 
In their food and mode of collecting it, nothing was observed to 
distinguish them from the other Sandpipers. They come on passage 
in spring and autumn. 



$66 THE RUPP AND REEVE 

THE RUFF AND REEVE 

MACHETES PUGNAX 

Male in spring — face covered with yellowish warty pimples ; back of the 
head with a tuft of long feathers on each side ; throat furnished with a 
ruti of prominent feathers ; general plumage mottled with ash, black, 
brown, reddish white, and yellowish, but so variously, that scarcely 
two specimens can be found alike ; bill yellowish orange. Male in winter 
— face covered with feathers ; ruff absent ; under parts white ; breast 
reddish, with brown spots ; upper plumage mottled with black, brown, 
and red ; bill brownish. Length twelve and a half inches. Female, 
' The Reeve ' — long feathers of the head and ruff absent ; upper plumage 
ash-brown, mottled with black and reddish brown ; under parts greyish 
white ; feet yellowish brown. Length ten and a half inches. In both 
sexes — tail rounded, the tvvo middle feathers barred ; the three lateral 
feathers uniform in colour. Eggs olive, blotched and spotted with 
brown. 

Both the systematic names of tliis bird are descriptive of its quarrel- 
some propensities : machetes is Greek for ' a warrior', pugnax 
Latin for ' pugnacious'. Well is the title deserved ; for Ruffs do 
not merely fight when they meet, but meet in order to fight. The 
season for the indulgence of their warlike tastes is spring ; the scene, 
a rising spot of ground contiguous to a marsh ; and here all the 
male birds of the district assemble at dawn, for many days in suc- 
cession, and do battle valiantly for the females, called Reeves, till 
the weakest are vanquished and leave possession of the field to 
their more powerful adversaries. The attitude during these con- 
tests is nearly that of the domestic Cock — the head lowered, the 
body horizontal, the collar bristling, and the beak extended. But 
Ruffs will fight to the death on other occasions. A basket con- 
taining two or three hundred Ruffs was once put on board a steamer 
leaving Rotterdam for London. The incessant fighting of the 
birds proved a grand source of attraction to the passengers during 
the voyage ; and about half of them were slain before the vessel 
reached London. Ruffs are gluttonously disposed too, and, if 
captured by a fowler, will begin to eat the moment they are supplied 
with food ; but, however voracious they may be, if a basin of bread 
and milk or boiled wheat be placed before them, it is instantly 
contended for ; and so pugnacious is their disposition, that even 
when fellow-captives, they would starve in the midst of plenty if 
several dishes of food were not placed amongst them at a distance 
from each other. 

Many years have not passed since these birds paid annual visits 
in large numbers to the fen-countries. They were, however, highly 
prized as delicacies for the table, and their undeviating habit of 
meeting to light a pitched battle gave the fowler such an excellent 
opportunity of capturing all the combatants in his nets, that they 
have been gradually becoming more and more rare. The fowler, in 
fact, has been so successful that he has destroyed his own trade. 



GREEN SANDPIPER 467 

Another peculiarity of the Ruff is, that the plumage varies 
greatly in different individuals — so much so, indeed, that Montagu 
who had an opportunity of seeing about seven dozen in a room 
together, could not find two alike. These birds are now become 
rare, but occasional specimens are still met with in different parts 
of Great Britain, and at various seasons ; but if they are ever 
served up at table, they must be consignments from the Continent. 

The female builds her nest of coarse grass, among reeds and rushes, 
and lays four eggs. The brood, when hatched, remain with her 
until the period of migration ; but the maJes take no interest in 
domestic affairs. The few that have not been caught become more 
amicably disposed during the latter portion of the year. They 
lose the feathery shields from whence they derive their English 
name, and, assuming a peaceful garb, withdraw to some southern 
climate. The Ruff is about one-third larger than the Reeve ; 
and the latter is, at all seasons, destitute of a prominent collar. 
Formerly these birds bred in the east of England. 



GREEN SANDPIPER 
t6tanus 6CHROPUS 

Upper plumage olive-brown, with greenish reflections, spotted with whitish 
and dusky ; lower plumage white ; tail white, the middle feathers barred 
with dusky towards the end, the two outer feathers almost entirely 
white ; bill dusky above, reddish beneath ; feet greenish. Length nine 
and a half inches. Kggs whitish green, spotted with brown. 

This bird, which derives its name from the green tinge of its plum- 
age and legs, must be reckoned among the rarer Sandpipers. In 
habits it differs considerably from most of its congeners, in that it 
is not given to congregate with others of its kind, and that it resorts 
to inland waters rather than to the sea. It is seen for the most 
part in spring and autumn, at which seasons it visits us when on 
its way to and from the northern countries in which it breeds. 
Specimens have been killed late in the summer, from which it has 
been inferred that the Green Sandpiper sometimes breeds in this 
country ; but the fact does not appear to have been confirmed 
by the discovery of its nest. While migrating it flies very high, 
but when scared from its feeding-ground it skims along the surface 
of the water for some distance, and then rises high into the air, 
uttering its shriU whistle. In its choice of food, and habits while 
feeding it resembles the Common Sandpiper. It lays its eggs in 
deserted nests and old squirrel dreys — and breeds probably in wild 
parts of Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire. The Son of the Marshes 
considers that it does so. 



j68 the common sandpiper 

THE WOOD SANDPIPER 
t6tanus glAreola 

Winter — a narrow dusky streak between the bill and eye ; upper parts deep 
brown, spotted with white ; breast and adjacent parts dirty white, 
mottled with ash-brown ; under plumage and tail-coverts pure white ; 
tail-feathers barred with brown and white ; two outer feathers on each 
side witli the inner web pure white ; bill and legs greenish. Summer— 
head streaked with bro\vn and dull white ; the white of the breast 
clearer ; each of the feathers of the back with two white spots on each 
side of the centre. Length seven and a half inches. 

This species closely resembles the last both in appearance and habits. 
It received its name of Wood Sandpiper from having been observed 
occasionally to resort to boggy swamps of birch and alder, and has 
been seen even to perch on a tree. Its most common places of 
resort are, however, swamps and wet heaths. Like the last, it is a 
bird of wide geographical range, nowhere very abundant, and 
imperfectly known, coming only on passage in spring and autumn. 



THE COMMON SANDPIPER 

t6tanus hypoleucus 

Upper parts ash-brown, glossed with olive ; back and central tail-feathers 
marked with line wavy lines of rich dark brown ; a narrow white streak 
over each eye ; under plumage pure white, streaked at the sides with 
brown ; outer tail-feathers barred with white and brown ; bill dusky, 
lighter at the base ; feet greenish ash. Length seven and a half inches. 
Eggs whitish yellow, spotted with brown and grey. 

To this bird has been given not inappropriately the name of Sum- 
mer Snipe. In form and mode of living it resembles the Snipe 
properly so called, and it is known to us only during summer. Un- 
like the last two species, it is a bird of common occurrence. One 
need only to repair to a retired district abounding in streams and 
lakes, at any period of the year between April and September, and 
there, in all probability, this lively bird will be found to have made 
for itself a temporary home. Arrayed in unattractive plumage, 
and distinguished by no great power of song — its note being simply 
a piping, which some people consider the utterance of one of its 
provincial names, ' Willy Wicket ' — it may nevertheless be pro- 
nounced an accomplished bird. It flies rapidly and in a tortuous 
course, likely to puzzle any but the keenest shot ; it runs with 
remarkable nimbleness, so that if a sportsman has marked it down, 
it will probably rise many yards away from the spot ; it can swim 
if so inclined ; and when hard pressed by a Hawk, it has been seen 
to dive and remain under water until all danger had passed away. 
It has never been observed to perch on the twigs of trees, but it 
has been noticed running along the stumps and projecting roots 
of trees. Its favourite places of resort are withy holts (where it 



THE COMMON REDSHANK 269 

searches foi" food in the shallow drains), moss-covered stones in 
rivers, the shallow banks of lakes, and the flat marshy places inter- 
sected by drains, which in low countries often skirt the seashore. 
Its food consists of small worms and the larvae and pupae of the 
tountless insects which spend their lives in such localities. It may 
be presumed, too, that many a perfect winged insect enters into its 
dietary, for its activity is very great. Even when its legs are not 
in motion, which does not often happen, its body is in a perpetual 
state of agitation, the vibration of the tail being most conspicuous. 

Sandpipers do not congregate like many others of the Waders ; 
they come to us generally in pairs, and do not appear to flock to- 
gether even when preparing to migrate. The nest is a slight de- 
pression in the ground, most frequently well concealed by rushes 
or other tufted foliage, and is constructed of a few dry leaves, 
stalks of grass, and scraps of moss. The Sandpiper lays four eggs, 
which are large, and quite disproportionate to the size of the bird. 
Indeed, but for their peculiar pear-shaped form, which allows of 
their being placed so as to occupy a small space with the pointed 
ends aU together, the bird would scarcely be able to cover them. 
The parent bird exhibits the same marvellous sagacity in diverting the 
attention of an intruder from the young birds to herself, by counter- 
feiting lameness, which has been observed in the Plovers. The young 
are able to run within a very short time after exclusion from the 
egg, there being an instance recorded in the Zoologist of a gentleman 
having seen some young birds scramble away from the nest whUe 
there yet remained an egg containing an unhatched chick. Early, 
too, in their life they are endowed with the instinct of self-preserva- 
tion, for Mr. Selby states that if discovered and pursued before 
they have acquired the use of their wings, they boldly take to the 
water and dive. 

The Sandpiper is found in all parts of Europe and Asia, but not 
in America. 



THE COMMON REDSHANK 
t6tanus calidris 

Winter — upper plumage ash-brown ; throat, sides of the head, streak over 
the eye, neck, and breast, greyish white ; rump, belly, and abdomen, 
white : tail marked transversely with black and white zigzag bars, tipped 
with white ; feet and lower half of both mandibles red. Summer — 
upper feathers [ash-brown, with a broad dusky streak in the centre ; 
under parts white, spotted and streaked with dusky ; feet and lower half 
of both mandibles vermilion red. Length ten to eleven inches. Eggs 
greenish yellow, blotched and spotted Avith brown. 

The Redshank is'" a bird of frequent occurrence on all such parts 
of the coast as are suited to its habits. Nowhere, I suppose, is it 
more abundant than on the coast of Norfolk — at least, on those parts 



370 THE COMMON REDSHANK 

of the coast where it can have access to muddy marshes. It does 
not, indeed, confine itself to such places, for it is not unfrequently 
to be seen on the seashore, feeding in the neighbourhood of Dunlins, 
Knots, Grey Plovers, and other Waders ; or, when its favourite 
haunts are covered by the tide, a solitary bird or a party of three 
or four meet or overtake the stroller by the seaside, taking care 
to keep at a respectful distance from him, either by flying high over 
his head or sweeping along, a few feet above the surface of the sea, 
in the line of the breakers or in the trough outside them. They 
may easily be distinguished from any other common bird of the 
same tribe by the predominance of white in their plumage. Other 
Waders, such as Dunlins and Sanderlings, present the dark and light 
sides of their plumage alternately, but the Redshank shows its dark 
and white feathers simultaneously, and if seen only on the wing 
might be supposed to be striped with black and white. Keen-sighted 
observers can also detect its red legs. Its flight, as accurately 
described by Macgillivray, ' is light, rapid, wavering, and as if 
undecided, and, being performed by quick jerks of the wings, 
bears some resemblance to that of a Pigeon'. During its flight it 
frequently utters its cry, which is a wild shrill whistle of two or three 
notes, approaching that of the Ringed Plover, but louder and less 
mellow. At low water, it frequents, in preference to all other places 
of resort, flat marshes which are intersected by muddy creeks, and 
in these it bores for food. It is very wary, flying off long before 
the fowler can come within shot if it happens to be standing 
exposed ; and even if it be concealed under a high bank, where it 
can neither see nor be seen, it detects his approach by some means, 
and in most cases is up and away before any but the most expert 
shot can stop its flight. On these occasions it invariably utters 
its alarm note, which both proclaims its own escape and gives warn- 
ing to all other birds feeding in the vicinity. Scattered individuals 
thus disturbed sometimes unite into floclra, or fly off, still keeping 
separate, to some distant part of the marsh. On one occasion only 
have I been enabled to approach near enough to a Redshank 
to watch its peculiar movements while feeding, and this observation 
I was much pleased in making, as it confirms the account of another 
observer. A writer in the Naturalist, quoted by Yarrell and Mac- 
gillivray, says : ' I was very much struck with the curious manner 
in which they dart their bHl into the sand nearly its whole length, 
by jumping up and thus giving it a sort of impetus, if I may use 
the word, by the weight of their bodies pressing it downwards.' 
This account Macgillivray, with an unamiable sneer too common in 
his writings when he refers to statements made by others of facts 
which have not fallen within his own observation, considers to be 
so inaccurate that he pronounces the birds to be not Redshanks 
at all, and calls them ' Irish Redshanks'. On the occasion to which 
I have referred, I saw at a distance a largish bird feeding on a bank 




Grecnshank. 



Redshank $ 
Blacktailed Godwit ? 



Ruff & Reeve. 



[face p. 270. 





Sandwich Tern. 
Black Tern. Arctic Tern. 

Roseate Tern. 



THE GREENSHANK ayi 

of mud close to an embankment. Calculating as nearly as I could 
how many paces off it was, I cautiously crept along the other side 
of the embankment ; and when I had reached what I supposed 
was the right spot, took off my hat and peeped over. Within a few 
yards of me was an unmistakable Redshank, pegging with his 
long beak into the mud, and aiding every blow with an impetus of 
his whole body. In my own mind I compared his movements 
with those of a Nuthatch, \\ath which I was quite familiar, and, the 
surface of the mud being frozen hard, I imagined that the laborious 
effort on the part of the bird was necessitated by the hardness of 
the ground. Perhaps this may have been the case ; but, whether 
or not, it is clear enough that the bird does, when occasion requires 
it, lend the weight of his body to the effort of his beak in searching 
for food. I should add that I did not know, at the time, that any 
similar occurrence had been recorded. 

The food of the Redshank consists of worms, marine insects, 
and any other animal matter which abounds on the seashore. In 
small communities it builds its nest of a few blades of grass in 
the marshes, in a tuft of rushes or long grass, never among the shingle 
where that of the Ringed Plover is placed, but often under a shrub 
(popularly known on the coast of Norfolk by the name of ' Rose- 
mary'), the Suceda fruticosa, Shrubby Sea Elite, of botanists. It 
lays four eggs, which are considered delicate eating. 



THE GREENSHANK 

t6tanus canescens 

Bill strong, compressed at the base, slightly curved upwards. Winter — fore- 
head, all the lower parts, and lower back, white ; head, cheeks, neck and 
sides of the breast, streaked with ash-brown and white ; rest 
of the upper feathers mottled vdth. dusky and yellowish white ; tail 
white, middle feathers barred with brown, outer white with a narrow 
dusky streak on the outer web ; bill ash-brown ; legs yellowish green, 
long and slender. Summer — feathers of the back edged with white, 
breast and adjacent parts white, with oval black spots ; middle tail- 
feathers ash, barred with brown. Length fourteen inches. Eggs olive- 
brown, spotted all over with dusky. 

An unusual colour and disproportionate length of leg are characters 
which sufficiently distinguish the Greenshank and account for its name. 
It is far less common than the Redshank, but seems to resemble 
it in many of its habits. It is sociably disposed towards birds of 
its own kind and allied species, but utterly averse to any familiarity 
with man, insomuch that fowlers rarely come within shot of it. It 
frequents low muddy or sandy shores and brackish pools, the oozy 
banks of lakes, ponds, and rivers, preferring such open situations 
as allow it a clear view of threatening danger whUe there is plenty 
of time to decamp. In the course of feeding it wades unconcernedly 



2 73 THE BAR-TAILED GOD WIT 

tnrough pools of shallow water, and, if so minded, hesitates neither 
to swim nor to dive. 

Its visits to England are paid most commonly in spring and 
autumn, while it is on its way to and from the northern climates 
in which it breeds. ' In Scotland it is seen', says MacgiUivray, 
' in small flocks here and there along the seashore, by the margins 
of rivers, and in marshy places breeding there in the north, but it 
is nowhere common, and in most districts of very rare occurrence. By 
the beginning of summer it has disappeared from its winter haunts, 
and advanced northwards ; individuals or pairs remaining here 
and there in the more northern parts of Scotland, while the rest 
extend their migration.' The same author describes a nest, which 
he found in the island of Harris, as very like those of the Golden 
and Lapwing Plovers, with four eggs, intermediate in size between 
the eggs of these two birds. Another nest was also found by Selby, 
in Sutherlandshire. There can be therefore no doubt that the 
north of Scotland is within the extreme southern limit of its 
breeding-ground. During the winter it is to be seen in the west of 
Ireland only. 



THE BAR-TAILED GODWIT 

LIMOSA LAPPONICA 

Beak slightly curved upwards ; middle claw short, without serratures. Wititer 
— upper plumage variously mottled with grey, dusky, and reddish ash ; 
lower part of the back white, with dusky spots ; tail barred with reddish 
white and dusky ; lower parts white. Summer — all the plumage deeply 
tinged with red. Young birds have the throat and breast brownish 
white, streaked with dusky, and a few dusky lines on the flanks. Length 
sixteen inches. Eggs unknown. 

On the coast of Norfolk, where I made my first acquaintance with 
this bird in the fresh state, it is called a Half-Curlew. In like 
manner, a Wigeon is called a Half -Duck. In either case the reason 
for giving the name is, that the smaller bird possesses half the market 
value of the larger. It resembles the Curlew in its flight and the 
colour of its plumage ; but differs in having its long beak slightly 
curved upwards, while that of the Curlew is strongly arched down- 
wards ; and it is far less wary, allowing itself to be approached so 
closely that it falls an easy prey to the fowler. It appears to be 
most frequently met with in sprine; and autumn, when it visits 
many parts of the coast in small flocks. In Norfolk it is met with 
from May, the twelfth of that month being called ' Godwit day,' by 
the gunners, although it is almost unknown up north at that season. 
The specimens which were brought to me were shot in the very 
severe weather which ushered in the year 1861. These birds have 
nowhere been observed in England later than the beginning of 



THE COMMON CURLEW 273 

summer, from which fact the inference is fairly drawn that they 
do not breed in this country. Their habits differ in no material 
respects from the other seaside Waders, with whom they frequently 
mingle while feeding, not, seemingly, for the sake of good fellowship, 
but attracted by a motive common to all, that of picking up food 
wherever an abundance is to be met with. Their note is a loud, 
shrill cry, often uttered while on the wing. The female is much 
larger than the male. 

This bird is sometimes called the Sea Woodcock. Its flesh is 
good eating, but is far inferior in flavour to that of the true 
Woodcock. 



THE BLACK-TAILED GODWIT 

lim6sa belgica 

Beak nearly straight ; middle claw long and serrated ; upper parts ash-brown 
the shafts of the feathers somewhat deeper ; breast and adjacent parts 
greyish white ; tail black, the base, and the tips of the two middle 
feathers, white ; beak orange at the base, black at the point; feet dusky. 
Summer— much, of the plumage tinged with red. Length seventeen and 
a half inches. Eggs deep olive, spotted with light brown. 

This bird is, in outward appearance, mainly distinguished from the 
preceding by having two-thirds of the tail black, instead of being 
barred throughout with white and black. Like its congener, it is 
most frequently seen in autumn and spring, while on the way to 
and from its breeding-ground in the north ; but it does not stay 
with us through winter, though occasionally a few pairs used to 
remain in the fen-countries to breed. It is by far the less common 
of the two, and seems to be getting annually more and more rare. 
Its habits, as far as they have been observed, approach those of 
the other Scolopacidae. In its flight it resembles the Redshank. 
Its note is a wild screaming whistle, which it utters while on the 
wing. It builds its nest in swamps, among rushes and sedges, 
simply collecting a few grasses and roots into any convenient hole, 
and there it lays four eggs. 



THE COMMON CURLEW 

NUMENIUS ARQUATA 

General plumage reddish ash, mottled with dusky spots ; belly white, with 
longitudinal dusky spots ; feathers of the back and scapulars black, 
bordered with rust-red ; tail white, with dark brown transverse bars ; 
upper mandible dusky ; lower, flesh-colour ; irides brown ; feet bluish 
grey. Length varying from twenty-two to twenty-eight inches. Eggs 
olive-green, blotched and spotted with brown and dark green. 

Dwellers by the seaside — especially where the tide retires to a 
great distance leaving a wide expanse of muddy sand, or on the 

B.B. 7 



274 THE COMMON CURLEW 

banks of a tidal river where the receding water lays bare extensive 
banks of soft ooze — are most probably quite familiar with the note 
of the Curlew, however ignorant they may be of the form or name 
of the bird from which it proceeds. A loud whistle of two syllables, 
which may be heard for more than a mile, bearing a not over-fanciful 
resemblance to the name of the bird, answered by a similar cry, 
mellowed by distance into a pleasant sound — wild, but in perfect 
harmony with the character of the scene — announces the fact 
that a party of Curlews have discovered that the ebb-tide is well 
advanced, and that their feeding-ground is uncovered. The stroller, 
if quietly disposed, may chance to get a sight of the birds themselves 
as they arrive in small flocks from the inland meadows ; and though 
they will probably be too cautious to venture within an unsafe 
distance, they will most likely come quite close enough to be dis- 
criminated. Not the merest novice could mistake them for Gulls ; 
for not only is their flight of a different character, but the bill, 
which is thick enough to be distinguished at a considerable distance, 
is disproportionately long, and is curved to a remarkable degree. 
Curlews are in the habit of selecting as their feeding-ground those 
portions of the shore which most abound in worms and small crus- 
taceous animals ; these they either pick up and, as it were, coax 
from the tip to the base of the beak, or, thrusting their long bills 
into the mud, draw out the worms, which they dispose of in like 
manner. When the sands or ooze are covered, they withdraw 
from the shore, and either retire to the adjoining marshes or pools, 
or pace about the meadows, picking up worms, snails, and insects. 
Hay-fields, before the grass is cut, are favourite resorts, especially 
in the North ; and, in districts where there are meadows adjoining 
an estuary, they are in the habit of changing the one for the other 
at every ebb and flow of the tide. From the middle of autumn 
till the early spring Curlews are, for the most part, seaside birds, 
frequenting, more or less, all the coast ; but at the approach of the 
breeding season they repair inland, and resort to heaths, damp 
meadows, and barren hills. Here a shallow nest is made on the 
ground, composed of bents, rushes, and twigs of heath, loosely put 
together. The eggs, which are very large, are four in number. 
During the period of incubation the male keeps about the neigh- 
bourhood, but is scarcely less wary than at other seasons. The 
female, if disturbed, endeavours to lure away the intruder from 
her dwelling by the artifice, common in the tribe, of pretending to 
be disabled ; and great anxiety is shown by both male and female 
if any one approaches the spot where the young lie concealed. 
The latter are able to run almost immediately after they are 
hatched, but some weeks elapse before they are fledged. It seems 
probable that an unusually long time elapses before they attain 
their full size, for the dimensions of different individuals vary to 
a remarkable degree. Eight or nine specimens were brought to 



THE BLACK TERN ajh 

me in Norfolk in the winter of 1861, and among them about half 
seemed full-grown ; of the others some were so small that, at the 
first glance, I supposed them to be Whimbrels. 

The Curlew is found on the sea-coast over the whole of Europe 
and Asia, and along the northern coast of Africa. 

The flesh of this bird is said by some to be excellent eating. This, 
perhaps, may be the case with young birds shot early in autumn 
before they have been long subjected to a marine diet. My own 
experience of birds shot in winter does not confirm this opinion. I 
have found them eatable, but not palatable. 

THE WHIMBREL 

NUMENIUS PH^OPUS 

General plumage pale ash-colour, mottled with white and dusky spots ; crown 
divided by a longitudinal streak of yellowish white ; over each eye a 
broader brown streak ; belly and abdomen white, with a few dusky spots 
on the flanks ; feathers on the back, and scapulars deep brown, in the 
middle bordered by lighter brown ; rump white ; tail ash-brown, barred 
obliquely with dark brown ; bill dusky, reddish at the base ; irides brown ; 
feet lead-colour. Length not exceeding seventeen inches. Eggs dark 
olive-brown, blotched with dusky. 

Though by no means a rare bird, the Whimbrel is of far less com- 
mon occurrence than the Curlew, and is seen only at two periods 
of the year, in May and August, when performing its migrations. 
It resembles the Curlew both in figure and habits, though much 
smaller in size ; its note, too, is like the whistle of that bird, but 
somewhat higher. It is gregarious, but unsociable with other 
birds. The extreme southern limit at which the Whimbrel breeds 
is considered to be the Orkney and Shetland Islands. It is known 
to visit most of the countries of Europe and Asia in spring and 
autumn, but is nowhere very abundant. 



ORDER GAVI^ 

FAMILY LARID^ 
Sub-Family STERNIN^E 
THE BLACK TERN 

HYDROCHELIDON NIGRA 

Bill black ; feet purple-brown, the membrane short ; head and neck black ; 
upper parts lead-colour ; under parts dark ash-grey ; under tail-coverts 
white ; tail not much forked, shorter than the wings ; irides brown. In 
winter, the lore, throat and breast are white. Length ten and a quarter 
inches. Eggs dark olive-brown, blotched and spotted with black. 

The Black Tern is a common bird in most temperate countries 



Ije THE SANDWICH TERN 

which abound in extensive marshes. In its habits it is scarcely 
less aquatic than the preceding sj^ecies, but differs from them all 
in preferring fresh water to salt. It was formerly of frequent occur- 
rence in England ; but draining and reclaiming have, within the last 
few years, given over many of its haunts to the Partridge and Wood 
Pigeon ; and it is now but rarely known to breed in this country.* 
A few, however, are not unfrequently seen in spring and autumn, 
when on their way from and to their winter quarters, which are 
the warmer regions of the globe. In Norfolk its name still lingers 
as the ' Blue Darr ', a corruption, probably, of Dorr-Hawk (another 
name of the Nightjar), a bird which it closely resembles in its mode 
of flight. Like the Dorr-Hawk, the Black Tern feeds on beetles 
and other insects, which it catches on the wing, but adds to its 
dietary small fresh-water fish, which it catches by dipping for them. 
\\ hile in pursuit of its winged prey, it does not confine itself to the 
water, but skims over the tmarsh and adjoining meadows, sometimes 
even alighting for an instant to pick up a worm. Black Terns are 
sociable birds among themselves, but do not consort with other 
species. They lay their eggs in the most inaccessible swamps, on 
masses of decayed reeds and flags, but little elevated above the level 
of the water. The nests are merely depressions in the lumps of 
vegetable substance, and usually contain three or sometimes four 
eggs. They are placed near enough to each other to form colonies j 
and the birds continue to flock together during their absence in 
warmer climates. Large flocks have been seen in the Atlantic, 
midway between Europe and America. In Holland and Hungary 
they are said by Temminck to be numerous. This author states 
that the Black Tern commonly lays its eggs on the leaves of the 
water-lily. 



THE SANDWICH TERN 

STERNA CANTIACA 

Bill long, black, the tip yellowish ; tarsus short (one inch) : tail long ; head 
and crest as in the last ; nape, upper part of the back, and all the lower 
parts brilliant white, tinged on the breast with rose ; back and wings 
pale ash-grey ; quills deeper grey ; tail white ; feet black, yellowish 
beneath. Young birds — head mottled with black and white ; back, wing- 
coverts, and tail-feathers varied with irregular lines of black ; bill and 
feet dark brown. Length eighteen inches. Eggs greyish green, blotched 
with brown and black. 

The Sandwich Tern, which takes Its name from the place where 
it was first seen in England, is not uncomimon on many parts of the 
coast during the summer months. In some places it seems to be 

* The Rev. R. Lubbock states in his Fauna of Norfolk, 1845, that it has 
ceased to breed regularly in Norfolk, but that eggs had been recently obtained 
at Crowland Wash in Lincolnshire. 



THE ROSEATE TERN ^fj 

abundant. A large colony inhabits the Fame Islands. They breed 
as far north as the Findhorn. Upon this coast it is called par 
excellence ' The Tern ', all the other species passing under the general 
name of ' Sea Swallows '. Its habits are so like those of the 
Common Tern, to be described hereafter, that, to avoid repetition, 
I purposely omit all account of its mode of fishing, and content 
myself with quoting, on the authority of Audubon and Meyer, 
incidents in its biography which I have not noticed in the Common 
Tern. The former author says : * Its cries are sharp, grating, 
and loud enough to be heard at the distance of half a mile. They 
are repeated at intervals while it is travelling, and kept up inces- 
santly when one intrudes upon it in its breeding-ground, on which 
occasion it sails and dashes over your head, chiding you with angry 
notes, more disagreeable than pleasant to your ear.' Meyer, writing 
of the same bird, says : ' The Sandwich Tern is observed to be 
particularly fond of settling on sunken rocks where the waves 
run high, and the surf is heavy : this being a peculiar fancy belong- 
ing to this species, it is sometimes called by the name of Surf Tern.' 



THE ROSEATE TERN 

STERNA DOUGALLI 

Bill black, red at the base ; feet orange, claws small, black ; tarsus three- 
quarters of an inch long ; tail much forked, much longer than the wings ; 
upper part of the head and nape black ; rest of the upper plumage pale 
ash-grey ; tail white, the outer feathers very long and pointed ; cheeks 
and under plumage white, tinged on the breast and belly with rose. 
Length fifteen to seventeen inches. Eggs yellowish stone-colour, spotted 
and speckled with ash-grey and brown. 

Of this Tern Dr. M'Dougall, its discoverer, says, ' It is of light 
and very elegant figure, differing from the Common Tern in the 
size, length, colour, and curvature of the bill ; in the comparative 
shortness of the wing in proportion to the tail, in the purity of the 
whiteness of the tail, and the peculiar conformation and extra- 
ordinary length of the lateral feathers. It also differs from that 
bird in the hazel-colour and size of the legs and feet.' 

Roseate Terns have been discovered on several parts of the coast, 
principally in the north, as in the mouth of the Clyde, Lancashire 
and the Fame Islands. They associate with the Common Terns, but 
are far less numerous. Selby says, ' the old birds are easily recog- 
nized amidst hundreds of the other species by their peculiar and 
buoyant flight, long tail, and note, which may be expressed by the 
word crake, uttered in a hoarse grating key.' They rarely nest in 
Great Britain. 



27« THE COMMON TERN 

THE ARCTIC TERN 

STERNA MACRURA 

Bill slender, red throughout ; under plumagu ash-grey ; tail much forked, 
longer than the wings ; legs orange-red, in other respects very like tho 
last. Length fifteen inches. Eggs as in the last. 

This bird, as its name indicates, frequents high northern latitudes, 
to which, however, it is not confined ; since in the Orkneys and 
Hebrides it is the common species. It breeds also on the coast 
of some of the northern English counties, but not farther south 
than the Humber, though severed instances are recorded of large 
jQocks making their appearance in different places at the season 
when they were probably on their way from their winter quarters 
— far away to the south — to their breeding-ground. In the 
rocky islands, which they frequent from May to September, they 
form colonies and lay their eggs, generally apart from the allied 
species. The eggs closely resemble those of the Common Tern, 
but are somewhat smaller. In its habits and general appearance 
the Arctic Tern comes so close to the last-named species, that 
the birds, even when flying together, can only be distinguished by 
the most practised eye. 



THE COMMON TERN 

STERNA FLUVIATILIS 

Bill moderate, red with a black tip ; head and long feathers on the back of the 
head black ; upper parts bluish ash ; quills ash-grey, brown at the tips ; 
tail much forked, not longer than the wings, white, the two outer fea- 
thers on each side dusky on the outer webs ; under parts white, tinged 
with grey on the breast ; irides reddish brown ; feet coral-red. Young 
birds have a good deal of white about the head, and the feathers on the 
back are tipped with white ; tail ash-grey, whitish at the tip. Length 
fourteen inches. Eggs olive-brown, blotched and spotted with ash and 
dusky. 

On those parts of the coast where the Common Tern is abundant, 
no sea-bird is more likely to attract the notice of the visitor than 
the Common Tern. It is less in size than any of the common species 
of Gull, with which, however, it is often confounded by the unob- 
servant. It is more lively and active in its motions, not ordinarily 
flying in cuxles, but, if I may use the expression, ' rambling ' 
through the air, frequently diverging to the right or left, and raising 
or depressing itself at frequent intervals. These characters alone 
are sufficient to distinguish the Tern from any of the Gulls ; 
but it presents yet more striking features. Its tail is elongated 
and forked like that of the Swallow, and from this character 
rather than from its flight it is commonly known as the Sea 
Swallow. Its mode of taking its prey is totally different from 




> 





Common Tern^ 
Turnstone g imm. 



Lesser Tern g 
Oyster Catcher $ 



TM^ p. 278 



^ 



^^^^r^r. 






\ 



"^^^KSIte^^ 






The Common Gull. 
Greater Black-backed Gull ^ 



Glaucous Gull 5 
Lesser Black-backcd Gull, 



THE LITTLE (OR LESSER) TERN 379 

that of the Gulls. Very frequently a single Tern may be observed 
pursuing its course in a line with the breakers on a sandy shore at 
the distance perhaps of from fifty to a hundred yards from the beach. 
Its beak is pointed downwards, and the bird is evidently on the 
look-out for prey. Suddenly it descends perpendicularly into the 
water, making a perceptible splash, but scarcely disappearing. 
In an instant it has recovered the use of its wings and ascends again, 
swallowing some small fish meanwhile if it has been successful, but 
in any case continuing its course as before. I do not recollect 
ever to have seen a Tern sit on the water to devour its prey when 
fishing among the breakers. Often, too, as one is walking along 
the shore, or sailing in a boat, when the sea is calm, a cruising party 
of Terns comes in sight. Their flight now is less direct than in the 
instance just mentioned, as they ' beat ' the fishing-ground after 
the fashion of spaniels, still, however, making way ahead. Sud- 
denly one of the party arrests its flight, hovers for a few seconds 
like a Hawk, and decends as if shot, making a splash as before. 
If unsuccessful it rises at once, but if it has captured the object on 
which it swooped, it remains floating on the water until it has re- 
lieved itself of its incumbrance by the summary process of swallow- 
ing it. I do not know a prettier sight than a party of Terns thus 
occupied. They are by no means shy, frequently flying quite 
over the boat, and uttering from time to time a short scream, 
which, though not melodious, is more in keeping with the scene 
than a mellow song would be. 

In rough weather they repair to sheltered bays, ascend estuaries, 
or follow the course of a river until they have advanced far inland. 
They are harbingers of summer quite as much as the Swallow itself, 
coming to us in May and leaving in September for some warmer 
coast. They usually breed on flat shores, laying two or three eggs 
on the ground, in marshes, or on sandy shingle. The eggs in my 
collection were procured on the coast of Norfolk, but I have seen 
the birds themselves in the greatest numbers in Belfast Lough and 
in Loch Crinan. They have bred as far north as Sutherland. 



THE LITTLE (OR LESSER) TERN 

STERNA MINUTA 

Bill orange, with a black tip ; feet orange , forehead, and a streak above 
the eye, white ; crown black ; upper parts pearl-grey ; under, white ; 
tail much forked, shorter than the wings. Young birds have the head 
brownish, with darker streaks ; upper plumage yellowish white and dusky ; 
bill pale yellow, with a dark tip ; legs dull yellow. Length eight and a 
half inches. Eggs stone-colour, spotted and speckled with grey and 
brown. 

On the sandy and marshy shores of Norfolk, the Lesser Tern is a 
bird of common occurrence in summer, either single, or in small 



^8o THE LITTLE TERN 

parties of three or four. Not unfrequeiitly, as the seaside visitor 

is sauntering about on the sands, one of these birds seems to take 
offence at its donnuion being invaded. With repeated harsh cries i*- 
flies round and round the intruder, coming quite close enough to 
allow its black head and yellow beak to be distinguished. Its 
flight is swift, something like that of a Swallow, but more laboured, 
and not so rapid. If fired at, it takes little notice of the noise ; 
and, knowing nothing of the danger, continues its screams ^ and 
circling till its pertinacity becomes annoying. When feeding it 
presents a far pleasanter appearance. Then, altogether heedless 
of intrusion, it skims along the surface of the drains in the marshes, 
})roliting by its length of wing and facility of wheeling, to capture 
flying insects. At least, if this be not its object, I can in no other 
way account for the peculiar character of its flight. At other 
times, either alone or in company with a few other individuals 
of the same species, it is seen flying slowly along, some fifteen or 
twenty feet above the surface of a shallow tidal pool, or pond, in a 
salt marsh. Suddenly it arrests its onward progress, soars like a 
Kestrel for a second or two, with its beak pointed downwards. It 
has descried a shrimp, or small fish, and this is its way of taking 
aim. Employing the mechanism with which its Creator has pro- 
vided it, it throws out of gear its apparatus of feathers and air- 
tubes, and falls like a plummet into the water, with a splash which 
sends circle after circle to the shore ; and, in an instant, having 
captured and swallowed its petty booty, returns to its aerial 
watch-post. A social little party of three or four birds, who have 
thus taken possession of a pond, will remain fishing as long as the 
tide is high enough to keep it fuU. They take little notice of pas- 
sengers ; and if startled by the report of a gun, remove to a short 
distance only, and there resume their occupation. Sometimes they 
may be seen floating about in the open sea, resting their wings, 
perhaps, after a long flight, or simply idling, certainly not fishing ; for 
although they plunge from a height, with great ease and elegance, 
diving proper is not one of their accomplishments. 

To the stranger who visits the coast of Norfolk, the Lesser Tern 
win, perhaps, be pointed out under the name of ' Sea Swallow ', 
or, more probably, as a ' Shrimp Catcher '. Either of these names 
is appropriate. Its mode of progress through the air is more 

^ I have been beset in this manner by a Lesser Tern, so far on in the summer 
that I could not attribute its actions to any anxiety about either eggs or young. 
I am inclined to think it is, on such occasions, taught by its instinct to accom- 
pany a traveller for the sake of the insects disturbed by his movements. 
During the summer months, the shingle, on a sunny beach, is haunted by 
myriads of sluggish flies, which rarely take wing unless thus disturbed. That 
the Chimney Swallow often accompanies the traveller for this object, I have 
no doubt ; as I have seen them fly to and fro before me, darting in among 
the swarming flies, and so intent in their chase, as to pass within a few yards 
of luy feet every time they crossed my path. 



THE BROWN-HEADED GULL 281 

like a Swallow's than that of the Common Tern, and in size it does 
not so very much exceed the Swift as to make the comparison out- 
rageous. A shrimp it can undoubtedly catch ; and it exercises 
its vocation in shallow water, such as shrimps alone inhabit or 
small fish no larger than shrimps. 

Like the other Terns it is migratory, repairing year after year 
to low fiat shores on various parts of the coast, arriving in May, 
and departing in September for some climate subject to no cold 
severe enough to banish small marine animals to deep water. The 
Lesser Tern makes no nest, but lays its eggs, generally two, among 
tlie shingle. 



Sub-Family LARINiE 
THE LITTLE GULL 

LARUS MINUTUS 

Summer — head and neck black ; lower part of the neck, tail, all the under 
plumage, white ; upper plumage pale ash-grey ; primaries white at the 
end ; bill reddish brown ; irides dark ; legs vermilion. Winter — fore- 
head, front and sides of the neck white ; nape and cheeks white, streaked 
with greyish black. Length eleven inches. 

This, the smallest of the Gulls, comes sometimes in numbers to the 
British coast. It is said to be remarkably active and graceful in 
its movements through the air, and to associate with Terns. Its 
food consists of marine insects and small fish. Its breeding-place 
and eggs are unknown. As a rule it leaves us in September or 
early in October. 



THE BROWN-HEADED GULL 

LARUS RIDIBUNDUS 

Summer — head and upper part of the neck deep brown ; lower part of the 
neck and all the under plumage white, slightly tinged with rose ; upper 
plumage bluish ash ; primaries white, edged with ash, and broadly tipped 
with black ; irides brown ; bill and feet red, with a purple tinge. In winter 
the head and neck are white ; bill and feet bright vermilion. In young 
birds the hood is pale brown ; the upper plumage dark brown, mottled 
at the edges of the feathers with yellowish ; bill livid at the base, the 
tip black ; feet yellowish. Length seventeen inches. Eggs olive, spotted 
with brown and dusky. 

Black-Headed, Black-Cap, Brown-Headed, Red-Legged, and 
Pewit, are aU common distinctive names of this Gull, to which 
may be added that of Laughing GuU. The latter name is, indeed, 
often given to the next species, a rare bird, and might with equal 
propriety be applied to several other species, whose harsh cry 



38a THE BROWN-HEADED GULL 

resembles a laugh. The systematic name, ridihundus, which has 
the same meaning, is by general consent confined to this. The 
reader, therefore, must bear in mind that though the term ridi- 
hundus will bear no translation but ' laughing ', the name of the 
Laughing Gull is Lams atricapilla, which can mean only ' Black- 
Headed Gull ' ; a paradoxical statement, perhaps, but one which 
it is necessary to make, or the young student will probably faU into 
error. 

Brown-Headed Gull is the most appropriate of all the above names, 
at least in summer, for at this period both male and female are 
best distinguished by the deep brown colour of the head and upper 
part of the neck. 

This is one of the most frequent of the Gulls, to be sought for 
in the breeding season not on the rocky shore among cliffs, but on 
low flat salt marshes on the coast and in fresh-water marshes far 
inland. Early in spring large numbers of Brown-Headed Gulls 
repair to their traditional breeding-grounds and wander over the 
adjoining country in search of food, which consists of worms and 
grubs. From the assiduity with which they resort to arable land 
and follow the plough, they have been called Sea Crows. In April 
and May they make their simple preparations for laying their 
eggs by trampling down the broken tops of reeds and sedges, and 
so forming a slight concavity. The number of eggs in each nest 
is generally three, and as a large number of birds often resort 
to the same spot, the collecting of these eggs becomes an 
occupation of importance. By some persons they are considered 
a delicacy, and, with the eggs of the Redshank, are substituted for 
Plovers' eggs ; but to a fastidious palate they are not acceptable, 
and far inferior to an egg from the poultry yard. Willughby 
describes a colony of Black-Caps on a small island in a marsh or 
fish pond, in the county of Stafford, distant at least thirty miles 
from the sea. He says that when the young birds had attained 
their full size, it was the custom to drive them from the island into 
nets disposed along the shore of the lake. The captured birds were 
fattened on meat and garbage, and sold for about fourpence or 
fivepence each (a goodly price in those days, 1676). The average 
number captured every year was 1200, returning to the proprietor 
an income of about £15. In The Catalogue oj Norfolk and 
Suffolk Birds, it is stated that precisely the same sum is paid 
for the privilege of collecting the eggs from Scoulton Mere, in 
Norfolk. Towards the end of July, when the young are fully 
fledged, all the birds, old and young, repair to the sea, and scatter 
themselves in small flocks to all parts of the coast, preferring a low 
sandy shore, or the mouth of a tidal river, as the Thames and the 
Clyde, where they are of common occurrence. They also accom- 
pany shoals of herrings and other small fish, often congregating 
with other species in countless numbers. 



^m^s^ - 






--^3^ 







i 



i 



Herring Gull. 
Kittiwake ^ Little Gull, imm. 

Brown-headed Gull $ [face p. S8i> ■ 






Twist Tailed or Pomatorhinc Skua 

Richardson's Skua 
Great Shearwater Great Skua 



THE COMMON GULL 283 

. Before winter the distinctive character afforded by the brown 
plumage of the head and neck has entirely disappeared. These parts 
are now of a pure white, and the red legs afford the best distinguish- 
ing feature. Persons residing on the coast, who are familiarly 
acquainted with the habits of the bird, but are unaware of the peri- 
odical change in its colour, consider the two forms of the bird as 
distinct species. Thus I have received from a marsh on the coast of 
Norfolk the eggs of the ' Black-Headed Gull ', and have had the 
same bird pointed out to me in winter as the ' Red-Legged Pigeon- 
Mow ' (Mew).. One flock of about thirty thus pointed out to me 
presented a very pretty sight. They had detected either a shoal 
of small fishes, or a collection of dead animal matter floating among 
the breakers, and were feeding with singular activity. 



THE COMMON GULL 

LARUS CANUS 

In spring the head and neck of this species are white and the mantle is a pale 
grey, a little darker in summer, the head, tail and under parts white ; 
primaries comparatively long, and the three outer pairs dull black on 
the lower portions, with large white ' mirrors ' near the tips in mature 
birds — in the rest the predominant tone is a pale grey, the black only 
forming a bar, and all but the first primary broadly tipped with white ; 
bill a rich yellow towards the point ; legs and feet greenish yellow in 
summer, darker in winter. In winter the head and neck are streaked 
and spotted with ash-brown. Length eighteen inches. 

This is a species resident in Great Britain, but it is not known 
to breed south of the Solway. It nests, however, in the west of 
Ireland ; grassy sides and islands of lochs or slopes that face the 
sea, not far often above high-water, are its favourite resorts, where 
it breeds in colonies, the nest of seaweeds, heather and dry grass 
being fairly large. In it will be, as a rule, three eggs, an olive-brown, 
spotted and streaked with a blackish tone ; but pale blue, light 
green and straw-coloured varieties are found often. This Gull is 
the first to seek the shore on the approach of ' coarse ' weather ; 
and it may often be studied in the fields as it picks up grubs among 
the furrows in the company of Rooks, or by the town-tied Cockney, 
from his own standpoint of Westminster Bridge. 

The ' Blue Maa ', as this species is called in the north, breeds in 
abundance on the Scottish coasts as well as the moors of the fresh- 
water lochs, including the Hebrides, Orkneys and Shetlands. 
The Black-Headed GuU is generally the Common GuUof the peasantry 
in Ireland, but the underside of the wing in the young of the Com- 



iS4 THE COMMON GULL 

mon Gull is mottled with brown, whereas it is greyish-white in the 
Black-Headed species. 

Gulls are, moreover, of material service, for they perform for the 
surface of the sea the same office which crustaceous animals do 
for its depths. Most of their time is spent in either flying or swim- 
ming about (they are no divers) in quest of food, which is of that 
nature that, if suffered to accumulate, more than one of our senses 
would be offended. All animal matter which, when life is extinct, 
rises to the surface, it is their especial province to clear away. To 
perform this necessary work, they have need of a quick eye and a 
voracious appetite. That they have the former in an eminent 
degree, any one may convince himself who, when taking a sea 
voyage, sees the vessel followed, as he often will, by a flock of Gulls. 
Let him fling overboard, into the foaming track of the ship, where 
his own eye can distinguish nothing, ever so small a portion of bread 
or other kind of food. That some one individual at least among 
the flock will have seen it fall and be able to descry it is certain ; 
now, probably, a general scramble will ensue, and the prize will be 
secured by the swiftest. Having tried this several times with 
the same result, let him throw over, instead of meat or bread, a bit 
of wood. Not a bird will come near even to examine it. I have 
often tried this experiment, and have met with but one result. To 
prove that the Gull is capable of consuming a large quantity of 
food, as well as quick-sighted, a single anecdote wUl suffice : — "A 
man who was shooting on the banks of the river Yare, seeing some- 
thing, which had the appearance of an eel half-swallowed, hanging 
from the mouth of a Gull which was flying overhead, fired at the 
bird, and on taking it up, found, not an eel, but — five tallow can- 
dles attached to a piece of thread, to the other end of which was 
fastened a sLxth, the latter having been almost entirely swallowed. 
The candles were about twelve inches in length, with cotton wicks, 
such as are used on board the fishing boats, from the deck of which 
he had probably taken them ". The Gull, then, is not choice in its 
diet ; it is, in fact, omnivorous. It skims the deep for dead animal 
matter, follows the ship for offal thrown overboard, paces the shore 
in quest of molluscs and marine insects, flies inland in stormy 
weather (a specimen was once brought me which had been shot in 
Hertfordshire, twenty miles from the nearest navigable river) 
in winter and spring, and follows the plough along with Rooks and 
Jackdaws, alights on fields which have been manured with decom- 
posed fish, resorts to marshes for frogs and worms, and after an 
inundation repairs to the lately submersed ground, and picks up 
the small quadrupeds which have been drowned. It usually flies 
at no great elevation above the water, but when repairing inland 
and returning it frequently rises to a very great height. 



THE LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL 385 

THE HERRING GULL 

LARUS ARGENTAtUS 

Head and neck white, streaked in summer with light brown ; tail and lower 

parts white ; back and wings bluish ash ; primaries dusky, passing into 
black, the shafts black and extremities white ; secondaries edged and 
tipped with white ; bill, orbits, and irides, yellow ; feet flesh-colour. 
In young birds the white is mostly replaced by dark grey, mottled with 
brown ; wings and tail brown, the latter reddish yellow towards the 
end ; bill dusky ; irides, orbits, and feet, brown. Length twenty- 
three inches. Eggs olive-brown, spotted with dark brown and dusky. 

If, among a flock of Common GuUs, seen either following a vessel 
at sea or attending on the movements of a shoal of fish, one be 
observed which greatly surpasses the rest in size, it will probably 
be this species, provided that it have a grey and not a black back. 
In the latter case it may either be the Great or Lesser Black-Backed 
Gull. 

The Herring Gull is a large and powerful bird, thoroughly com- 
petent to dispose of a herring or even a more bulky fish. It is 
common on most parts of the British coast, and remains with us 
all the year, building its nest on steep cliffs, or rocky islands. In 
the south of England it is very abundant, and is more frequently 
seen inland, in newly-ploughed fields, than any other species. Like 
the other Gulls, it may easily be tamed if taken young ; and, when 
kept in a garden, earns its maintenance by keeping down slugs and 
other vermin. 



THE LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL 

LARUS FUSCUS 

Wings reaching two inches beyond the tail ; head and neck white, streaked 
(in winter) with brown ; lower parts pure white ; rest of the upper plumage 
blackish grey ; primaries black, the first two with an oval white spot 
near the tip ; secondaries and scapulars tipped with white ; bill, irides, 
and feet, yellow ; tarsus two and a quarter inches long ; orbits red. 
In young birds the white plumage is mostly replaced by grey mottled 
with brown, and the black by dusky edged with yellowish ; the primaries 
have no white spots, and ;the bill is dusky. Length twenty-three 
inches. Eggs brownish grey, spotted with brown and black. 

This is a generally diffused species, occurring in considerable num- 
bers, not only on various parts of our coast, but in the Baltic, the 
Mediterranean, the Black Sea, the Red Sea, and the northern parts 
of America. It repairs in spring either to rocky islands, steep cliffs, 
or sometimes to inland lakes, where it builds a rather lar^e nest 
of tufts of grass, and lays two or three eggs. When the young are 



286 THE GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL 

hatched it is very impatient of having its stronghold invaded, and 
resents molestation by darting at the head of the intruder. The 
Lesser Black-Backed Gull breeds habitually on many parts of the 
coast, especially such as are frequented by the Herring Gull. Its 
food and habits are much the same as those of the Common Gull. 
In the South of England, the nesting-places are confined to Devon 
and Cornwall, but there are colonies on the Fame Islands, the Isle 
of Man and Wales. 



THE GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL 

LARUS MARIN US 

Wings extending but little beyond the tail ; legs pale flesh-colour. Length 
thirty inches ; breadth about five feet nine inches. In most other 
respects resembling the Lesser Black-Backed Gull. Eggs stone-bufif, 
blotched and spotted with dusky brown. 

Of the two Black-Backed Gulls, the Greater, or ' Cobb ', is by far 
the less frequent on our coasts, and when seen generally occurs in 
pairs. It remains with us all the year, but is most frequent in 
the south during winter. In spring, Great Black-Backed Gulls for 
the most part withdraw to cliffs and rocky islands far north, as, 
for instance, the Orkneys and Hebrides, where they are numerous, 
a few only nesting southwards. Unlike most other Gulls, birds 
of this species are unsociable even in the breeding season. They 
build their nests on the most inaccessible parts of the rocks, and 
reserve the situation entirely to themselves, not even permitting 
birds of their own species or any other intruders to settle there. 
They are exceedingly wary, and give notice of the approach of 
danger to other animals. Consequently, they are held in dislike by 
the gunner, whether in pursuit of sea-birds or seals. Like the rest 
of the Gulls, they are omnivorous, but are, more than any others, 
addicted to carrion, in quest of which they often wander inland ; 
hence, they are sometimes called Carrion Gulls. ' If a floating 
prize presents itself ', says Mr. St. John, ' such as the remains of a 
large fish or dead bird, it is soon discovered by one of the large 
GuUs, who is not, however, allowed to enjoy his prize alone, for 
every one of his fellows within sight joins in tearing it to pieces. 
When I have winged a Duck, and it has escaped and gone out to sea, 
I have frequently seen it attacked, and devoured almost alive, by 
these bu-ds.' 

Stations occur here and there on the coast of England in which 
the Great Black-Backed Gull builds. It sometimes resorts to a 
marsh at the breeding season, but retains its habit of driving away 
all intruders. Its eggs are prized as dainties, being thought to 
resemble Plovers' eggs. 



THE KITTIWAKE GULL 287 

GLAUCOUS GULL, OR BURGOMASTER 

LARUS GLAUCUS 

General plumage white ; back and wings bluish grey ; tail and termina 
portion of the quills white ; bill strong, yellow ; legs livid flesh-colour. 
Young mottled with white, grey, and light brown ; shafts of the quills 
white ; in other respects like the last, but the bill is longer and stouter. 
Length about twenty-nine inches ; breadth five feet two inches. Eggs 
as in the last, but of a greener hue. 

The Glaucous Gull, a large, handsome, and powerful bird, resembles 
in many of its habits the species last described, but it has not been 
known to breed in even the most northerly of the British Isles. It 
pays occasional visits to our shores in winter. A few specimens 
only have been shot in the southern portion of the island, and no 
large number in Scotland ; but in the neighbourhood of the whale 
fishery it is common enough. It is very voracious, and not only 
eats fish, whether dead or alive, and shares with the whale-fisher 
in his booty, but pursues other sea-fowl, compels them to disgorge 
their prey, robs them of their eggs, and, if they resist, kills and 
devours them.^ In short, it is the very tyrant of the Arctic Ocean. 
Its predatory habits were noticed by the early navigators in these 
waters, who gave it the name of Burgomaster ; but as no accurate 
description of the bird was brought home, and as some of our other 
large Gulls are open to a charge of similar rapacity, the name was 
naturally transferred by WUlughby to another species, which he 
IcaUs the Wagel (probably the Great Black-Backed Gull in immature 
plumage). This was in 1676. A hundred years later Brunnich 
gave it the name of Glaucous Gull ; but it is still called Burgo- 
master by the Dutch, and by Arctic voyagers generally. 

Mr. St. John gives the name of Wagel to the Great Grey Gull. 

THE KITTIWAKE GULL 

RISSA TRIDACTYLA 

Hind toe represented by a small knob without a claw. Summer plumage 
— head and neck pale bluish ash, a few fine dusky streaks before the eyes ; 
forehead, region of the eyes, and all the under parts, pure white ; upper 
plumage bluish ash ; first primary with the outer web black, four first 
tipped with black, two or three of them ending in a small white spot, 
fifth having the tip white bordered with black ; bill greenish yellow ; 
orbits red ; irides brown ; feet dark olive-brown. In winter, the whole 
of the head and neck is white. Young birds have the head white, mottled 
with grey and dusky ; upper feathers tipped with brown ; bend and 
upper edge of the wing black ; primaries black ; tail black, towards the 
end tipped with white ; bill, orbits, and irides, black ; feet pale brown. 
Length fifteen and a half inches. Eggs stone-colour, spotted with grey 
and two shades of brown. 

The Kittiwake GuU takes its name from the cry with which in the 

^ A specimen shot in Norfolk weis found to contain a full-grown Golden 
Plover entire. 



288 THE GREAT SKUA 

breeding season it assails any intruder on its domain. It is a beauti- 
ful bird, especially in its v^ariegated immature plumage, remarkalde 
for its delicacy of colouring and the easy grace of its flight, frequent- 
ing high cliffs in summer, while engaged in the duties of incubation, 
and at all other times preferring the open sea to estuaries, and feed- 
ing on such small fish as swim near the surface. It is very abun- 
dant in the Arctic regions of both hemispheres during summer, 
and extends its southern limits so far as to include the British Isles, 
but is most numerous in the north. Its nest, built of seaweed or 
bents, is placed high up in the face of a precipitous cliff, generally on 
a' "narrow ledge, and in close proximity with others belonging to 
birds of the same species. It contains three eggs, and the young 
birds remain in their airy nest until fully fledged, when, as 
well as their parents, they disperse over the neighbouring seas, 
rarely venturing either to perch on land or fly over it. The 
young of the Kittiwake, previous to its first moult, is sometimes 
called the Tarrock. Colonel Irby says that the Kittiwake is a 
partially resident species. Marked birds have been known to 
follow vessels across the North Atlantic. 



Sub-Family STERCORARIIN^ (Robber Gulls) 
THE GREAT SKUA 

STERCORARIUS CATARRHAcTES 

Upper plumage brown, of several shades ; shafts of the quills, basal half of 

the primaries, and shafts of the tail-feathers, white ; under, reddish grey, 
tinge^ with brown ; two central tail-feathers but slightly elongated, not 
tapering ; tarsus two and a half inches long, somewhat rough at the back. 
Length twenty-five inches. Eggs olive-brown, blotched with brown. 

The Skuas, caJled also Skua Gulls, are sufficiently distinguished 
from the true Gulls by their strong hooked bills and talons, and 
by the habits of daring and voracity founded on these characters. 
The present species, though called common, is only to be so con- 
sidered in high latitudes ; for it is very rarely seen on the coasts of 
England, and has become scarce even in the Shetland Islands, where 
it was at one time frequent. Mr. Dunn ^ says : " I never saw this 
bird in Orkney, and there are only three places in Shetland where 
it breeds — viz. Foula, Rona's Hill, and the Isle of Mist ; in the latter 
place it is by no means numerous, and is strictly preserved by the 
landlords, on whose property it may have settled, from a superstition 
that it will defend their flocks from the attacks of the Eagle. That 

* Ornithologist's Guide to Orkney and Shetland, p. lis. 



TWIST-TAILED OR POMATORHINE SKUA ^89 

it will attack the Eagle if he approaches their nests is a fact T have 
witnessed : I once saw a pair completely beat off a large Eagle 
from their breeding-place, on Rona's Hill. The flight of the Skua 
is stronger and more rapid than that of any other GuU. It is a 
great favourite with the fishermen, frequently accompanying their 
boats to the fishing-ground, or Haaf, which they consider a lucky 
omen ; and in return for its attendance, they give it the refuse of 
the fish which are caught. The Skua GuU does not associate in 
groups ; and it is seldom that more than a pair are seen together. 
During the breeding season it is highly courageou"» ; and wUl strike 
furiously at, and will even pursue, any one who may happen to 
approach its nest, which is constructed among the heath or moss ; 
the female laying two eggs." 

Some authors state that the Common Skua obtains its livelihood 
by levying contributions on the White GuUs, compelling them to 
disgorge their prey, and catching it before it reaches the water ; 
but Dr. Edmonston, who had great opportunities of watching the 
habits of these birds, says that they do not adopt the practices 
correctly attributed to the Arctic Gull, or Richardson's Skua. The 
voice of the Common Skua is said to resemble that of a young Gull, 
being sharp and shrill ; and it is from the resemblance of its cry 
|to that of the word Skua, or Skui, that it obtains its popular name. 
jThat it is remarkably courageous and daring, all accounts agree. 
Mr. Low says that, when the inhabitants are looking after their 
sheep on the hills, the Skua often attacks them in such a manner 
that they are obliged to defend themselves with their cudgels held 
above their heads, on which it often kills itself ; and Captain Vetch, 
in the Memoirs of the Wernerian Society, says that it not only 
drives away Ravens and Eagles, but that the larger quadrupeds, 
such as horses and sheep, which venture near its nest, are imme- 
diately put to flight. Its northern name is Bonxie. 



TWIST-TAILED OR POMATORHINE SKUA 

STERCORARIUS POMATORHINUS 

Upper plumage uniform dark brown ; feathers of the nape long, tapering 
lustrous ; sides of the face and under plumage white ; a collar of brown 
spots on the breast, and similar spots on the flanks ; shafts of the quills 
and tail-feathers white, except at the tip ; two central tail-feathers 
projecting three inches, not tapering ; tarsus two inches long, rough at 
the back, with projecting scales. Length twenty-one inches. Young 
birds — upper plumage dusky brown, mottled with reddish yellow ; 
under, yellowish white, thickly set with brown spots and bars. Eggs 
ash-green, spotted with dusky. 

The habits of this bird vary but little from those of the other species. 
Its home is in the Arctic seas, from which it strays southwards in 
winter, and has been occasionally seen on our coasts. The follow- 

B.B. U 



ago RICHARDSON'S SKUA 

ing account of the capture of one of these birds, in 1844, indicates 
a bird of unusual daring and voracity : " About the beginning of 
last October, a Pomarine Skua was taken in the adjoining village 
of Ovingdean. It had struck down a White Gull, which it would 
not quit : it was kept alive above a fortnight, and then died. The 
very first day of its captivity it (is said to have) devoured twenty- 
five Sparrows. Once it escaped, and immediately attacked a Duck, 
wliich it held till recaptured." ^ 



RICHARDSON'S SKUA 

STERCORARIUS CREPIDATUS 

Crown dusky ; cheeks, neck, and under plumage white, tinged with yellow or 
brown ; rest of the plumage dusky, the wings and tail the darkest. 
Two central tail-feathers tapering from the base, pointed, and projecting 
six inches ; tarsus less than two inches. Length twenty-one inches. 
Eggs olive, with a circle of brown spots near the larger extremity, the 
rest speckled with the same colour. 

This species of Skua, most familiarly known, perhaps, as the Arctic 
Gull, received its distinctive name, ' Richardson's ', in honour of 
the eminent Arctic naturalist. It is distinguished from the species 
already described by its longer tail, but the habits of all are much 
alike ; indeed, the names of ' Arctic Gull ', ' Boatswain ', ' and Man- 
of -War ', appear to be sometimes employed indiscriminately. 
Richardson's Skua, like the rest, inhabits the Arctic seas, but 
extends its wanderings southwards in far greater numbers than 
either of the other species, so that its occurrence on the east coast 
of England is not unusual. According to Mr. Dunn, ' numbers of 
this bird breed in Orkney and Shetland, appearing regularly in 
May and leaving in August : it is confined to a few situations and 
is strictly preserved, from the same motive as the Skua GuU. It 
constructs its nest on low, not mossy, heaths in exposed situations. 
The female lays two eggs, and has recourse to the same stratagems 
that the Plover employs to decoy you from the nest ; but when a 
person approaches near to the place where the nest is built, becomes 
bold and fierce, and strikes severely with the feet and bill.' The 
following account is taken from Mr. St. John's Wild Sports of 
the Highlands : " 1 was much amused the other day by the 
proceedings of a pair of the Black-toed Gull or Boatswain. 
These two birds were sitting quietly on an elevated ridge of 
sand, near which a number of other Gulls of different kinds were 
fishing, and hovering about in search of what the waves might 
cast up. Every bird, indeed, was busy and employed, excepting 
these two black robbers, who seemed to be quietly resting, quite 
* Zoologist, vol. iii. p. 88q, 






Puffin ^ 
Razorbill o 



Black Guillemot;? ? 

Guillemot? [facep.x90. 




Red'throated Diver $ Winter and S Summer. 
Little Auk ? Black-throated Diver imm. and S 

Great Northern Diver (? 



THE RAZOR-BILL 291 

unconcerned. When, however, a Gull had picked up a prize, these 
birds seemed instinctively to know it, and darting off with the 
rapidity of a Hawk (which bird they much resemble in their manner 
of flight), they attacked the unfortunate Gull in the air, and in spite 
of his screams and attempts to escape, they pursued and beat him 
till he disgorged the fish or whatever he had swallowed, when one 
of them darted down and caught the substance before it could reach 
the water. The two then quietly returned to their sandbank, 
where they waited patiently to renew the robbery, should an 
opportunity occur. As the flock of Gulls moved on with the flow 
of the tide, the Boatswains moved on also, hovering on their flank 
like a pair of plundering freebooters. I observed that, in chasing 
a Gull, they seemed perfectly to understand each other as to who 
should get the spoil ; and in their attacks on the largest Gulls 
(against whom they waged the most fearless warfare), they evidently 
acted so as to aid each other. If another pair of Boatswains 
intruded on their hunting-ground they immediately seemed to send 
them further off ; not so much by actual battle, as by a noisy and 
screaming argument, which they continued most vigorously till 
the new-comers left the neighbourhood. 

" I never saw these birds hunt for their own living in any other 
way than by robbing the other Gulls. Though not nearly so large 
as some of the birds which they attack, their Hawk-like swoops 
and great courage seem to enable them to fight their way most 
successfully. They are neatly and powerfully made, their colour 
a kind of sooty dull black, with very little gloss or shining tints on 
their feathers." 



ORDER PYGOPODES 

FAMILY ALCIDiE 
THE RAZOR-BILL 

ALCA TORDA 

Wings reaching to the origin of the tail ; head and upper parts black ; a band 
across the wing ; an interrupted line from the eye to the base of the bill, 
and all the under parts white ; bill black, with three or four furrows, of 
which the middle one is white ; irides hazel ; legs dusky. In summer 
the line from the eye to the bill is pure white, and the whole of the throat 
and neck is black, tinged with red. Length seventeen inches. Eggs 
white, blotched and spotted with two shades of brown. 

In general habits, the Razor-bill closely resembles the Guillemot 
and Puffin. Indeed, in some parts of the coast, the Razor-bUl is 
called a Puffin, and the latter a Sea Parrot ; and in Cornwall botb 



293 THE COMMON GUILLEMOT 

Guillemots and Razor-bills are known by the common name of Murre. 
At a distance the birds can only be distinguished by a practised 
eye ; but on a close inspection they cannot be possibly confounded. 

Razor-bills are common on many parts of our coast during the 
later summer months. They are more frequently seen swimming 
than flying, and if pursued by a boat are little disposed to take 
alarm untU they are approached to within twenty or thirty yards, 
when they dive, but soon reappear not very far ofl. If two birds 
be in company and one be killed by a shot from a gun, its companion, 
instead of taking measures to insure its own safety, seems to lose 
the power of self-preservation. It paddles round its companion 
as if unable to comprehend the reason why it neither dives nor flies, 
and if pursued suffers itself to be overtaken and knocked down by 
an oar. This sympathetic feeling is not confined to birds which 
have paired, or to members of the same family ; for in an instance 
which came under my own notice, both birds were only a few months 
old, and, as the Razor-bill lays but one egg, the birds could not 
possibly have grown up together. Towards winter. Razor-bills 
migrate southwards, either to avoid cold or to find waters where 
their prey swims nearer to the surface than in our climate. In 
spring they return northwards, and repair, like Puffins, to places 
of habitual resort for the purpose of breeding. At this season, also, 
they are eminently social, laying each an egg in close proximity 
on a ledge in the rocks, lower down than the Puffins, but abov^e 
the Guillemots, all of which birds flock to the same portion of 
coast, often in countless multitudes. The egg differs from that 
of the Guillemot not only in colour but in shape, being less 
decidedly pear-shaped. It is much sought after as an article of 
food, and is said to be very palatable. 

The ' Auk ' of Arctic voyagers is this bird. The Razor-biU is 
one of the best known of the Auk family, or Alcidae, although less 
plentiful than the Guillemot or the Puffin. 



THE COMMON GUILLEMOT 

tJRIA Tr6ILE 

Bill much compressed, longer than the head, greyish black ; upper plumage 
brownish black ; the secondaries tipped with white ; a whitish patch 
behind the eye on each side ; under plumage white ; feet dusky ; iris 
brown. Length nearly eighteen inches. Eggs greenish or bluish, 
blotched and streaked with black. 

This is one of our common sea-birds during a great portion of the 
year, though little known to ordinary seaside visitors, owing to its 
habit of keeping well out to sea and having nothing ostentatious 
in its habits. fYet, during a cruise in a yacht, on almost any part 
of the coast, a practised eye will often discover a few stragglers. 



THE COMMON GUILLEMOT 993 

distinguished among other sea-birds by their black and white 
colours, short neck, and sharp beak. They swim low in the water ; 
and when disturbed do not invariably dive like the Grebes and Divers, 
but readily take wing. They are essentially marine birds, never 
resorting to fresh water, and living exclusively on iish, which they 
capture by diving, an art in which they are scarcely less skilful than 
the true Divers, and which they practise in the same way — by the 
means, namely, of both wings and feet. Occasionally, a small 
party may be observed, flying in single file near the surface of the 
water. On the eastern coast of England, the Guillemot is best 
known by the name of Willock. It is also called Tinker's Hue, 
or, as Yarrell gives it, ' Tinkershere ' ; and in the west of England 
it is often called a Murr. The old writers describe it under the 
name of Greenland Dove, or Sea Turtle-Dove ; and in Scotland it 
has a variety of other names. Tinker's Hue is, I presume, the 
sobriquet of a white bird with a smutty back ; Murr is clearly a 
corruption of Mergus, or ' diver '. Yet more commonly it is known 
as the ' Foolish Guillemot ', a term of reproach analogous to that 
of ' Booby ', given to it from the indifference which it evinces, in the 
breeding season, to one of its few, but that one the most formidable 
of its enemies, man. Early in spring Guillemots throng together 
from cdl parts of the open sea, and repair to some lofty cliff, where, 
on a narrow ledge of rock, which in their folly they deem inaccessible, 
they lay each a single egg. As the bird holds the egg between her 
legs, she could not well cover more than one ; and though a con- 
cave nest is very needful to keep eggs together when there are 
several, no such contrivance is necessary when there is one only ; 
so the Foolish Guillemot buUds no nest, but lays a solitary egg on 
the bare rock. The egg, which is large, is thick-shelled and rough, 
so that it receives no detriment from the rock ; and it is not likely 
to roll off, for at one end it is thick, and at the other tapers almost 
to a point ; consequently, if accidentally moved by the parent 
bird when taking flight, it turns as if on a pivot, but does not fall 
off. At this season, the cliffs to which Guillemots resort are fre- 
quented also by myriads of other sea-birds, such as Razor-bills, 
Pufi&ns, and Gulls, each congregating with its own species, but 
never consorting with another. In Iceland, the Faroe Islands, St. 
Kilda, the Orkneys, and many parts of the coast of Scotland, the 
breeding season of these birds is the harvest-time of the natives. 
Either by climbing from below, or by being let down with ropes 
from above, the egg-collectors invade the dominions of these literally 
feathered ' tribes '. The Foolish Guillemots, rather than leave 
their charge, suffer themselves to be knocked on the head, to be 
netted, or noosed. Although stationed so close to each other that 
a Foolish Guillemot alone could know its own egg, they learn no 
wisdom from the fate of their nearest neighbours. They are 
captured in detail for the sake of their feathers ; and their eggs 



»94 THE LITTLE AUK 

are taken for food. In St. Kilda and, perhaps, elsewhere, young 
birds are also taken in large numbers, and salted for consumption 
in winter. Such as escape this systematic slaughter flounder, as 
well BS they are able, into the sea when nearly fledged, or are carried 
thither by their foolish mothers. There they learn to swim, to dive, 
and to fish, and about the middle of August old and young disperse. 
Huge baskets of their eggs are sometimes brought to the markets 
of seaport towns (I have seen them so far south as Devonport), 
and sold for a price exceeding that of domestic fowls, for they are 
much larger, and are said to afford good eating. WUson, in his 
Voyage round the Coasts of Scotland, says that the natives of St. 
Kilda prefer the eggs of these, and other sea-fowl, ' when sour ; 
that is, when about ten or twelve days old, and just as the incipient 
bird, when boiled, forms in the centre into a thickish flaky matter, 
like milk.'^ Great quantities are used in the neighbourhood of 
Flamborough Head early in the nesting season. 



THE BLACK GUILLEMOT 

tJRIA GRYLLE 

Upper plumage black ; middle of the wings and under parts white ; iris brown ; 
feet red. Length thirteen and a half inches. Eggs whitish grey, blotched 
and speckled with grey and two shades of brown. 

The Black Guillemot, is a resident species breeding on the Isle of 
Man, and on the Irish coasts. In Scotland it is common. Its 
mode of life, as described by Macgillivray, who was familiarly 
acquainted with it, differs in no material respect from that of the 
species already described. It is, however, much smaller, and lays 
two or sometimes three eggs. Macgillivray says that, on those 
parts of the coast which it frequents, attempts are often made to 
rear it in captivity ; but always unsuccessfully. In summer, 
these birds may be readily distinguished from other sea-fowl, by 
their black and white plumage and red feet : the predominant tint 
of the plumage in winter is white, with a tinge of grey ; and in high 
latitudes the proportion of white increases. 



THE LITTLE AUK 

M^RGULUS ALLE 

Head and upper parts black ; two bands across the wings ; a spot above the 
eye and all the under parts white. In summer the throat and front of 
the neck are also black. Length about seven inches. Eggs uniform pale 
blue. 

The Little Auk is essentially a northern sea-bird, coming to us in 
winter, and is described by Arctic voyagers under the name oi 

• VoL ii. p. 4?. 



THE PUFFIN 295 

Rotche. It is an indefatigable swimmer, and has considerable 
powers of flight ; but it does not possess the faculty of diving to the 
same degree as the Divers and Grebes, as it generally stays but a 
short time under water. Hence it must find its food near the surface ; 
and this is supposed to consist of the small crustaceous animals which 
are so abundant in the Arctic waters. Little Auks are eminently 
social birds, and have been observed occasionally in such numbers on 
the water and floating masses of ice as almost to hide their resting- 
place. They rarely travel far south ; and when they visit our 
shores, which is in winter, and after tempestuous weather, they are 
supposed to have been driven hither against their wiU. Instances 
are recorded of specimens having been found far inland, disabled 
or dead. It lays only a single egg. 

THE PUFFIN 

FRAT^RCULA ARCTICA 

Crown, collar, and upper parts, black ; cheeks, region of the eyes, and throat, 
grej'ish white ; under parts pure white ; bill bluish grey at the base, 
yellow in the middle, bright red at the tip ; upper mandible with three 
transverse furrows, lower, with two ; iris whitish ; orbits red ; feet 
orange-red. Length twelve and a half inches. Eggs whitish, with 
indistinct ash-coloured spots. 

Unlike the majority of sea-birds which have been passing under 
our notice. Puffins visit the shores of the British Isles in summer, 
and even in winter they are not absent. They make their appear- 
ance about April or May, not scattering themselves indiscriminately 
along the coast, but resorting in vast numbers to various selected 
breeding-places, from the Scilly Islands to the Orkneys. Their 
home being the sea, and their diet small fish, they possess the 
faculties of swimming and diving to a degree of perfection. They 
have, moreover, considerable powers of flight ; but on land their 
gait is only a shuffling attempt at progress. Their vocation on 
shore is, however, but a temporary one, and requires no great amount 
of locomotion. Soon after their arrival they set to work about 
their nests. Fanciful people who class birds according to their 
constructive faculty as weavers, basket-makers, plasterers, and so on, 
would rank Puffins among miners. Building is an art of which 
they are wholly ignorant, yet few birds are lodged more securely. 
With their strong beaks, they excavate for themselves holes in the 
face of the clifi to the depth of about three feet, and at the extremity 
the female lays a solitary egg — solitary, that is to say, unless another 
bird takes shelter in the same hole, which is not unfrequently the 
case. Puffins generally show no overweening partiality for their 
own workmanship ; sloping cliffe which have been perforated by 
rabbits are favourite places of resort ; and here they do not at aU 
scruple to avail themselves of another's labour, or, if necessary, 
to eject by force of beak the lawful tenant. If the soil be unsuited 



290 THE PUFFIN 

for boring, they lay their eggs under large stones or in crevices in 
the rock. The old bird sits most assiduously, and suffers herself 
to be taken rather than desert her charge, but not without wound- 
ing, witli her powerful beak, and to the best of her ability, the hand 
which ventures into her stronghold. Myriads burrow on Lundy 
Island. Liinde means Puffin, and ey Island, the name being given 
by the old Scandinavian rovers who settled there. 

The young are fed by both parents, at first on half-digested fish, 
and when older on pieces of fresh fish. At this period they suffer 
their colonies to be invaded without showing much alarm, and are 
either shot, knocked down with a stick, or noosed without difficulty. 
As soon as the young are fully fledged, all the Puffins withdraw to 
southern seas, where they pass the winter, and do not approach 
land until the return of the breeding season. " A small island near 
Skye, named Fladda-huna, is a great breeding haunt of Pufhns, a 
species which arrives in the earlier part of May, literally covering the 
rocks and ledgy cliffs with its feathered thousands. Although these 
have no concern with our Grouse-shooting season, they almost totally 
disappear on the twelfth of August." ^ It was just about this period 
(August 7) in the present year (1861) that I observed several large 
flocks of Puffins, floating with the tide through the Sound of Islay, 
and was told by an intelligent gamekeeper that " these birds habitu- 
ally swim through the sound at this season, but always fly when 
returning". The reason probably is that the young are not at the 
former period sufficiently fledged to undertake a long flight, though 
they find no difficulty in swimming. By spring they have attained 
their full strength, and are able to adopt the more rapid mode of 
progress. In Scotland there are many large colonies, also in the 
cliffs by Flamborough Head, and on the Fame Islands. 

Puffins and some other sea-birds appear to be either liable to a 
fatal epidemic or to be surprised by some atmospheric disturbance, 
being unable to resist which, they perish in large numbers. I have 
seen a portion of the sea-shore in Cornwall strewed for the distance 
of more than a mile with hundreds of their remains. All the softer 
parts had been apparently devoured by fishes and crustaceous 
animals, and nothing was left but the unmistakable parrot-like 
beaks. A friend informs me that he witnessed a similar pheno- 
menon in Norfolk, in September, 1858 ; but in this instance the 
carcases of the birds were not devoured, and the birds were of different 
kinds. He estimated that about ninety per cent, were Guillemots, 
and the remainder Puffins, Razor-bills, Scoters, and a sprinkling of 
Black Throated Divers. A similar mortality among sea-birds is 
recorded in the Zoologist as having taken place on the coast of 
Norfolk, in May, 1856. On this occasion they were so numerous 
as to be thought worth collecting for manure. 

* Wilson's Voyage round the Coast of Scotland. 



THE GREAT NORTHERN DIVER 29; 

Other names by which the Puffin is known are Sea Parrot, Coul- 
terneb, Mullet, Bottlenose j and, in Scotland, Ailsa Parrot, Tammie- 
Norie, and Tammas. 



FAMILY COLYMBID^ 
THE GREAT NORTHERN DIVER 

COLYMBUS GLACIALIS 

Bill, with the upper mandible, nearly straight, upwards of four inches in 
length ; head and neck violet-black, with a double gorget white, barred 
with black ; upper parts black, spotted with white ; under parts white ; 
bill black ; irides brown ; feet dusky, the membranes whitish. Young 
very like the next, but distinguishable by their superior size and the 
direction of the bill. Length thirty-three inches. Eggs dark olive- 
brown, with a few spots of purplish brown. 

The name Divers is, on the sea-coast, loosely applied to a tribe 
of sea-birds, including the Grebes, Cormorants, and other birds, 
which, when pursued, place their safety in diving rather than in 
flying. In works on natural history the term is, however, employed 
to designate the genus Colymbus, and with great propriety ; for, 
however skilled any of the above birds may be in this mode of 
progression, the true divers surpass them immeasurably. First 
among these in size and dignity is the Great Northern Diver, a 
native of high latitudes in both hemispheres, never perhaps coming 
farther south than the Shetlands for breeding purposes, and 
visiting our waters only during winter.^ The Northern Diver, 
or Imber or Ember Goose, appears to be tolerably frequent in 
British waters. In Scotland it prefers saltwater lochs and sandy 
bays to the open sea, though occasionally seen some miles from 
land. It swims deep in the water, but advances rapidly. When 
in pursuit of prey it sinks beneath the surface without plunge 
or splash, the head disappearing last, and it traverses perhaps 
two or three hundred yards of water before it rises again. 
Montagu says that it propels itself by its feet alone ; Audubon, 
on the contrary, states that it uses the wings under water. The 
latter author is most probably correct, for it dives more swiftly 
than the Grebes, and these birds undoubtedly make a vigorous 
use of their wings. Where shoals of small fish, such as sand-eels 

* Mr. Yarrell, vol. iii. p. 426, quotes Sir Thomas Browne as an authority 
for the fact that Divers formerly bred in the Broads of Norfolk. A careful 
examination of that author will show, however, that Sir Thomas Browne had 
seen only a single specimen of the Northern Diver, his ' Divers ', or ' Dive- 
fowl ', being the Crested and Lesser Grebes, etc., which, as we have seen 
above, continue to breed in the Broads. 



298 THE BLACK-THROATED DIVER 

and sprats, abound, or where fish even of a much larger size are 
numerous, the Northern Diver finds a rich harvest. Occasionally 
while thus engaged it meets its death by dashing into the herring 
nets, and there getting entangled. A fine specimen was recently 
shown to me in the island of Islay, which had been thus captured. 
Though it has never been known to take wing in attempting to 
elude pursuit, it is often seen flying with strength and rapidity, 
outstripping even the Grebe, which, in proportion to its size, is 
furnished with far larger wings than itself. 

The adult male, which is a very handsome bird, is of rare occur- 
rence, most of those which visit our shores being young birds. 

The nest is usually placed near the edge of a reedy lake or large 
river, having a well-beaten track leading to it from the water's 
edge. This is formed by the bird in its clumsy effort to walk, a 
feat which it only performs on such occasions. The nest itself is 
bulky, and is formed of the vegetable substances found in the 
immediate vicinity, such as grasses and other herbaceous plants. 
It contains two, and sometimes three, eggs. The young are able 
to swim and dive very soon after they are hatched, and are fed 
for about a fortnight by their parents, at the expiration of which 
time they have to hunt for themselves. 



THE BLACK-THROATED DIVER 

COL'i'MBUS ARCTICUS 

Bill slightly curved upwards, with the middle of the lower mandible equal in 
width to the base, exceeding three inches in length ; head ash-grey ; 
throat and front of the neck black, lustrous with violet and green ; be- 
neath the throat a narrow band streaked with white and black ; sides and 
front of the neck streaked with white and black ; back black, with a 
longitudinal patch of white and black bars on the upper part ; scapulars 
with twelve or thirteen transverse white bars ; bill dusky ; iris brown ; 
feet dusky, with whitish membranes. Young birds have the head and back 
of the neck greyer and the upper plumage dark brown, edged with 
bluish ash ; under plumage white ; cheeks white, spotted with ash ; 
upper mandible ash-grey, lower dull white. Length twenty-four to 
twenty-eight inches. Eggs dark olive-brown, spotted with purplish 
brown. 
This Diver differs from the preceding species principally in being 
of inferior size. The predominant tints of the plumage are the 
same, and the habits of the two are so similar that a separate descrip- 
tion is unnecessary. The present species is, however, far less 
common, though it breeds in the Outer Hebrides and in Scot- 
land, where both eggs and young birds have been observed, and 
migrates southward in winter. It lays two eggs, near the edge 
of a fresh-water loch ; and Mr. Selby observed that a visible 
track from the water to the eggs was made by the female, whose 
progress upon land is effected by shufiling along upon her belly, 





Red Necked Grebe. 
Slavonian Grebe. Black Necked or Eared Grebe. 

Great Crested Grebe $ Winter 3 Summer [ fare p. 29(! 




^^ 




■■/ 



Stormy Petrel 



Manx Shearwater 6 



Fork Tailed Petrel 9 



Fulmar 



THE RED-THROATED DIVER 399 

propelled by her legs behind. In the breeding season the old 
birds are often seen on the wing, at which time also they have 
a peculiar and loud cry, which has been compared to the voice of a 
human being in distress. 



THE RED-THROATED DIVER 

COLYMBUS SEPTENTRIONALIS 

Bill slightly curved upwards, with the edges of both mandibles much incurved, 
not exceeding three inches in length ; head, throat, and sides of the neck 
mouse-colour ; crown spotted with black ; neck both above and below 
marked with white and black lines ; on the front of the neck a large orange- 
coloured patch ; back dusky brown ; lower parts white. Young birds — 
upper plumage mouse-colour, darker on the back, where it is marked 
by longitudinal white lines ; wings dusky ; feathers on the flanks dusky, 
some of them edged with white ; all the under plumage pure white 
Length twenty-six inches. Eggs chestnut-brown, spotted with darker 
brown. 

The name 'Loon,' given in some districts to the Crested Grebe, is 
elsewhere given to the Red-Throated Diver. The term is an old 
one, for our countrymen, Ray and WiUughby, quoting yet more 
ancient authorities, describe the Northern Diver under the name 
of ' Loon ', and the Black-Throated Diver under that of ' Lumme ', 
the latter being the name of the bird in Iceland and Norway, and 
the former probably an English corruption of the same word, which 
in the original signifies ' lame *. 

On no part of our coast must we expect to hear this bird popularly 
called by the name of 'Red-Throated', for, though common on 
many parts of the coast, almost aU the specimens observed are 
young birds of the year, which have the throat pure white. Several 
were brought to me by the seaside gunners on the coast of Norfolk. 
In May birds with red throats are noticed. A] writer in the 
Zoologist ^ says that they are very numerous in winter off the 
coast of the Isle of Wight, passing and repassing in small flocks 
and in two lines about a mile apart. Of the hundreds which fell 
under his notice one only had a red throat, and this was captured 
under singular circumstances. On April 24, 1839, some fishermen 
observed an object floating which they imagined was a keg of 
spirits, but which proved to be a large fish of the kind known as 
the Fishing Frog, or Angler. On hauling it on board with their 
boat-hooks, the fishermen discovered that the animal had nearly 
choked himself by swallowing, tail foremost, an adult Red-throated 
Diver. The head of the bird protruded from the throat into the 
mouth of the captor, and, strange to say, it had not onlj^ survived 
its imprisonment, but was unhurt. It was extricated and pre- 
sented to the Zoological Gardens, where it lived for six months. 

* Vol. iii. p. 974. 



300 THE GREAT CRESTED GREBE 

Another writer in the same magazine ^ says that he saw a large 
number in Norway during the breeding season, but not one without 
the dark red throat. 

This species, like the rest of the genus, obtains its food by diving ; 
when pursued it rarely tries to escape by taking wing, though it 
has the power of flying with great rapidity. During the breeding 
season especially, it often flies about over the water with its long 
neck outstretched, and uttering a wailing scream. 

I am informed by a friend, that while fishing in a boat in calm 
water oH the coast of North Devon, he has many times seen Divers 
pass through the water, at a considerable depth below, propelling 
themselves by a free and active use of their wings. 

From October to May only these Divers frequent our coast. 
Towards the end of spring they withdraw northwards and build 
their nests, of coarse grass and other herbs, close to the edge of a 
fresh-water loch. They lay two eggs, and the male is said to take 
his turn in the office of incubation. Many stay to breed in the 
Orkneys and Outer Hebrides, and in Ireland. 



PODICIPEDID^ 
THE GREAT CRESTED GREBE 

PODICIPES CRISTATUS 

Bill longer than the head, reddish, the tip white ; distance from the nostril 
to the tip seventeen or eighteen lines ; cheeks white ; crest and ruflE 
dark brown and chestnut ; upper plumage dark brown ; secondaries 
white ; breast and under parts silky white ; bill brownish red ; irides 
red ; feet dull green. Female — crest and ruff less conspicuous, colours 
generally less bright. Young birds have neither crest nor ruff. Length 
twenty-one inches. Eggs white. 

The Great Crested Grebe is thus described by Sir Thomas Browne, 
under the name of Loon : ' A handsome and specious fowl, cris- 
tated, and with divided fin-feet placed very backward. They 
come about April, and breed in the broad waters ; so making their 
nest in the water, that their eggs are seldom dry while they are set 
on.' Fifty years ago the Loon continued to be so common on 
the Broads of Norfolk that eighteen or twenty might be counted 
together. It is more or less resident in England and Wales — in 
the meres of the Midlands and the lakes of Breconshire, and has 
lately bred in the vicinity of the Clyde. 

The movements of this bird in the water are described as most 
graceful ; in swimming it vies with the Swan, and it is a skilful 
diver. As seen perched up in a museum its form is ungainly, but 
^ Zoologist, vol. ix. p. 3084. 



RED-NECKED GREBE 301 

In its native element it might serve as the standard of perfection 
among water birds. The legs, compressed so as to present a sharp 
edge, cut the water with a minimum of resistance ; the webbed 
feet are placed so far backwards that they fulfil at once the office 
of propellers and rudder ; the body is conical and covered with 
satiny plumage, which throws off water as perfectly as the fur of 
the otter ; the long neck tapers to exceedingly narrow dimensions 
and terminates in a small head produced into a slender bill. The 
conformation of the greyhound is not better adapted for fleet run- 
ning than that of the Grebe for rapid diving. The chase, I need 
scarcely add, consists of fish ; but the Loon will feed on frogs, 
tadpoles, and any other small animals which fall in its way. It 
frequents fresh water during the summer months, but on the 
approach of wmter repairs to the sea, not, it would seem, from 
any desire of varying its food, but to avoid being frozen up. It builds 
its nest among rushes or decaying weeds, but little above the level 
of the water, and lays four eggs, the male assisting his partner in 
the office of incubation. 

The young can dive and swim immediately that they are hatched ; 
but if the mother be suddenly alarmed while they are with her, 
she takes them under her wing and dives with them. 

The name Loon is supposed to be a corruption of the Finnish 
designation, Leomme or Lem, ' lame *, given to several of the 
ColymhidcB on account of the awkwardness with which they advance 
on land. 

The Loon is found in lakes throughout a great portion of both 
the eastern and western hemispheres, but not very far to the north. 
It rarely flies, except at the period of migration, when it passes 
swiftly through the air, with neck and feet extended to their fuU 
length. 



RED-NECKED GREBE 

P6dICIPES GRISEfGENA 

Bill as long as the head, black, yellow at the base ; distance from the nostrils 

to the tip eleven lines ; crest very short ; head and crest lustrous black ; 
cheeks and throat mouse-colour ; a black band along the nape ; breast 
bright rust-red ; lower parts white ; flanks spotted with dusky ; feet 
black, greenish vellow beneath. Young birds have the head, neck, and 
back, dusky ; throat, cheeks, breast, belly, and abdomen, silky white ; 
sides of the breast spotted with grey. Length sixteen inches. Eggs 
dirty greenish white. 

The Red-Necked Grebe is smaller than the Loon, from which it 
differs also in wanting the elongated crest, in having a more robust 
bill in proportion to its size, and is further distinguished by the 
grey hue of its cheeks, on account of which last character it is 
known in France under the name of Grebe Jou-gris. It is a native 



3o« THE LITTLE GREBE, OR DABCHICK 

of the north-eastern parts of Europe, and is fairly common along 
the eastern coast of Great Britain from autumn to spring. In 
habits it differs Httle from the last described species, but is lesi 
common, occurring both in fresh-water lakes and along the sea- 
coast. 

SLAVONIAN GREBE 

p6dicipes auritus 

Bill strong, shorter than the head, compressed throughout its whole length, 
black, with the tip red ; eyes with a double iris, the inner yellow, the outer 
red ; distance from the nostrils to the tip of the bill six or seven lines ; 
head and bushy rufE glossy black ; two horn-like crests orange-red ; 
lore, neck, and breast, bright chestnut ; upper plumage dusky ; second- 
aries and under parts white ; bill black, rose-coloured at the base and 
red at the tip. Young — crest and ruflE wanting ; upper plumage and 
flanks dusky ash, under parts white ; irides white, surrounded by red. 
Eggs dirty white. 
The Slavonian, or Horned Grebe, approaches so closely in habits 
to the two preceding species that it is unnecessary to say more than 
that it inhabits the northern parts of America and Europe, visiting 
us from autumn to spring. Audubon describes its nest as a rude 
structure of weeds, situated at a distance of about twelve feet 
from the water's edge ; but other authors state that though it 
constructs its nest of these materials, it disposes it among weeds in 
such a way that it rises and falls with every alteration in the level 
of the water. It lays from five to seven eggs, and the male is 
supposed to assist in the office of incubation. 



THE LITTLE GREBE, OR DABCHICK 

PODICIPES FLUVIAtILIS 
Bill very short, shining, compressed ; no crest or ruff ; distance from nostrils 
to tip of the bill five lines ; tarsus with a double row of serratures behind ; 
head black ; cheeks bright chestnut ; breast and flanks dusky, mottled 
with white ; upper parts dark brown, tinged with green ; primaries ash- 
brown ; secondaries white at the base and on the inner web, under parts 
dusky ash, tinged on the thighs with reddish ; bill black, whitish at the 
tip and base of the lower mandible ; irides reddish brown ; feet externally 
greenish brown, beneath flesh-colour. Young birds are ash-brown 
above, slightly tinged with red ; breast and flanks reddish white ; belly 
pure white ; bill brown and yellowish ash. Length nearly ten inches. 
Eggs dirty white. 
The Lesser Grebe, or, as it is more commonly called, the Dabchick, 
is the only species with which it is possible to become familiarly 
acquainted in Britain. It frequents rivers, ponds, and lakes, in 
all parts of the country, rarely flying, and still more rarely coming 
to land. 
Rambling by the side of a sluggish river, the sides of which are lined 



THE LITTLE GREBE, OR DABCHICK 303 

with reeds or bulrushes, one may often descry, paddling about with 
undecided motion, what appears to be a miniature Duck no longer 
than a Blackbird. It does not, like the Moor-hen, swim with a jerk- 
ing movement, nor when alarmed does it half swim and half fly in a 
direct line for the nearest bank of weeds. If you are unobserved, 
it swims steadily for a short distance, then suddenly disappears, 
making no splash or noise, but slipping into the water as if its 
body were lubricated. It is diving for its food, which consists of 
water insects, molluscs, small fish and worms. As suddenly as it 
dives so 'suddenly does it reappear, most likely not far from the 
spot where you first observed it : 

A di-dapper peering through a wave, 
Who, being looked on, ducks as quickly in. 

Shakspeare. 

Another short swim and it dives again ; and so it goes on, the time 
spent under the water being far in excess of that employed in taking 
breath. Advance openly or make a noise, it wastes no time in 
idle examinations or surmises of your intentions, but slips down as 
before, not, however, to reappear in the same neighbourhood. Its 
motives are different : it now seeks not food, but safety, and this it 
finds first by diving, and then by propelling itself by its wings under 
water in some direction which you cannot possibly divine ; for it 
by no means foUows that itwiU pursue the course to which its bill 
pointed when it went down. It can alter its line of flight beneath 
the water as readily as a swallow can change its course of flight 
through the air. But wherever it may reappear, its stay is now 
instantaneous ; a trout rising at a fly is not more expeditious. You 
may even fail to detect it at all. It may have ensconced itself 
among weeds, or it may be burrowing in some subaqueous hole. 
That it has the power of remaining a long while submerged, I have 
no doubt. There is in the parish of Stamford Dingley, Berks, a 
large and beautiful spring of water, clear as crystal, the source of 
one of the tributaries of the Thames. I was once bending over 
the bank of this spring, with a friend, watching the water, some 
five or six feet down, as it issued from a pipe-like orifice and stirred 
the sand around like the bubbling of a cauldron, when there sud- 
denly passed between us and the object we were examining a form 
so strange that we were at first doubtful to what class of animals 
we should refer it. In reality, it was a Dabchick, which, alarmed 
probably by the noise of our conversation, was making for a place 
of safety. As it passed within two or three feet of our faces, we 
could distinctly see that it propelled itself by its wings ; but it 
appeared not to have observed us, for it kept on in a direct course 
towards the head of the spring. We searched long in the hope 
of discovering it again, but faSed ; and as there were no weeds 
among which it could possibly hide above water, and we could 
examine the bottom of the spring almost as thoroughly as if it 



304 THE FULMAR PETREL 

contained air only, we could but conclude that our apparition had 
taken refuge in a hole under the bank. 

Early in spring, when Dabchicks leave the small streams and 
watercourses for broader pieces of water, they have been observed 
to fly ; and during the building season also they have been seen 
circling round in the air near the locality of their intended nest. 
The nest itself is constructed of weeds of all kinds, forming a thick 
mass raised but a few inches above the surface of the water, and 
invariably far enough from the bank to be inaccessible except by 
wading. The Dabchick lays five or six long-shaped eggs, pointed 
at either end, of a chalky white colour. These the bird, when 
she leaves the nest, covers with weeds for the purpose of conceal- 
ment, and on her return continues the work of incubation without 
removing the covering, so that the eggs soon lose their white hue, 
and before the period of hatching have become very dirty. The 
young birds can swim and dive immediately on leaving the egg. 
I have never myself seen a Dabchick fly through the air or walk 
on land, neither have I ever heard its note. The latter, a low 
clicking and chattering sort of noise, it is said to utter in spring. 
It breeds even in St. James' Park. Females smaller than males. 



ORDER TUBINARES 

FAMILY PROCELLARIID/E 

THE FULMAR PETREL 

PROCELLARIA GLACIALIS 

Head, neck, under plumage, and tail, white ; wings bluish ash, the primaries 
brownish grey ; beak, irides, and feet, yellow. Yoimg of the year grey 
tinged with brown, mottled on the back with deeper brown ; bill and feet 
yellowish ash. Length nineteen inches. Eggs white. 

In some of the Outer Hebrides Fulmars breed ; but the great station' 
to which tens of thousands annually resort, is the remote island 
of St. Kilda. To the Fuhnar indeed, and in a less degree to the 
Gannet and two or three other sea-birds, the island is indebted for 
its being able to boast of human inhabitants. Eggs and birds, 
fresh or salted, furnish them with food ; the Fulmar with oil : 
and feathers pay their rent. In the Shetlands it is said to be increas- 
ing. 

Profes-or James Wilson says: 'The oil is extracted from both 
the young and old birds, which, however, they must seize on sud- 
denly and strangle, else, as a defensi\-e movement, the desired (and 
pungent) oil is immediately squirted in the face and eyes of their 
opponent.' This oil is ejected, not, as it is sometimes said, through 
tubular nostrils, but directly through the throat and open mouth. 



THE MANX SHEARWATER 305 

The flesh of the Fulmar is also a favourite food with the St. KUdans, 
who like it all the better on account of its oily nature. 

The Fulmar is essentially a sea-bird, and never comes to land 
except in the breeding season, when it builds its nest of herbage on 
the grassy shelves of the highest cliffs, and lays a single egg, if 
which be taken, it lays no more. The young birds are fed with 
oU by the parents, and on being molested spurt out through the 
throat and open mouth the same fluid, which, being of a rank 
smell, infects not only the nest, but the whole neighbourhood. The 
young birds, which are taken early in August, are boiled, and made 
to furnish a large quantity of fat, which is skimmed off and pre- 
served for winter use. The old birds are considered great dainties. 

In the Arctic regions the Fulmar is well known for its assiduity 
in attending on whale ships, keeping an eager watch for anything 
thrown over ; and when the operation of cutting up a whale is 
going on, helping itself most greedily to stray pieces of offal, and 
venturing so near as to be easily knocked down by a boathook or 
to be taken by hand. 

Owing to the rankness of its food, the smell of the Fulmar is 
^^ery offensive. A specimen recently shot was brought to me in 
Norfolk, early in January, 1862, and being a great rarity, was 
carefully preserved and set up ; but on being sent home from the 
bird-stuffer's it was banished to an outhouse, where it has remained 
for three months without losing anything of its offensive odour. 

THE GREAT SHEARWATER 

PUFFINUS MAJOR 

Bill two inches long ; tail pointed ; upper plumage dusky ; under, deep ash 

grey. Lengtli eigiiteen inches. 

The Great Shearwater is far less abundant than the preceding 
species, and may indeed be considered a rarity. A few solitary 
specimens have from time to time been shot on various parts of 
the coast, and they have occasionally been noticed in considerable 
numbers off the coast of Cornwall. In the Scilly Islands, where 
they are called ' Hackbolts ', they are said to be yet more frequent. 
The Great Shearwater differs Httle in habits, as far as they are 
known, from the other species. 

THE MANX SHEARWATER 

PUFFINUS ANGLORUM 

Bill an inch and a half long ; tail rounded ; upper plumage brownish black 
lustrous ; under white ; sides of the neck barred with grey ; sides spotted 
with grey. Length fourteen inches. Eggs nearly round ; pure white. 

That a bird whose generic name is Puffinus should sometimes be 
called a ' Puffin ' is not surprising ; and the reader who meets 

B.B. X 



306 THE MANX SHEARWATER 

with the name in books should satisfy himself whether the subject 
of his study be an Auk or a Shearwater, before he admits as facts 
any statements about the ' Puffin ' which may fall in his way. 
Yarrell, for instance, gives the name of Puffin to the bird already 
described under the name of Fratercula Arciica, while by Montagu 
that bird is described under the name of ' Coulterneb ', ' Puffin ' 
being given as a synonym for the Shearwater. Off Cornwall it is 
called skiddeu and hrew. 

The Shearwater is so called from its mode of flight, in which it 
* shears ' or skims the water ; and its distinctive name, Manx, it 
owes to its having been formerly very abundant in the Calf ^ of 
Man, a small island lying south of the Isle of Man. 

The Manx Shearwater is, during the greater portion of the year, 
an ocean-bird, and only ventures on shore during the breeding season.' 
It then repairs to some island, or portion of the coast little frequented 
by man, and in society with other birds of the same species there 
takes up its summer quarters. A sandy or light earthy soil, scantily 
furnished with vegetation, is preferred to any other station. Its 
nest is a hole in the ground, either the deserted burrow of a rabbit 
or a tunnel excavated by itself, or less frequently it lays its one 
egg in the crevice of a rock. During the day Shearwaters, for the 
most part, remain concealed in their holes, and lie so close that they 
will suffer themselves to be dug out with a spade and make no 
attempt to escape. Towards evening they quit their hiding-places, 
and paddle or fly out to sea in quest of food. This consists of small 
fish and other marine animals which swim near the surface, and are 
caught by the birds either while they are floating or ' shearing ' 
the water. No nest ever contains more than one eg^, but that one 
and the chick which it produces are objects of the greatest solicitude. 

Unfortunately for the poor Shearwaters, their young, though 
fed on half-digested fish oil, are delicate eating ; consequently, 
some of the stations of these birds have been quite depopulated/ 
and in others their numbers have been greatly thinned. 

Wniughby tells us that in his time ' Puffins ' were very numerous 
in the Calf of Man, and that fully fledged young birds, taken from 
the nests, were sold at the rate of ninepence a dozen. He adds, 
that in order to keep an accurate reckoning of the number taken, 
it was customary to cut off, and retain, one of each bird's legs. 
The consequence was that the state in which the birds were sent 
to market was supposed to be their natural condition, and the 
Pufiin was popularly believed to be a ' monopod ' (one-footed bird). 

This station is now nearly, if not quite, deserted ; but colonies 
still exist in Annet, one of the Scilly Islands, on the south coast 
of Wales, in the Orkneys, and in the Shetlands. In the ScUly 

* ' Calf ', on many parts of the coast, is a name given to the sm Jler of two 
rocks in proximity, of which the larger is called the ' Cow '. 



THE STORM-PETREL S07 

Islands the Shearwater is called a Crew, from the harsh note uttered 
by the bird when its burrow is invaded ; in the north, a Lyrie or 
Scrabe. 



THE STORM-PETREL 

PROCELLARIA PELAGICA 

General plumage like the last ; tail even at the extremity ; legs moderate ; 
membranes black. Length scarcely six inches. Eggs white. 

Under the name of ' Mother Carey's Chickens' the Petrels must 
be known to all readers of voyages. According to the belief popular 
in the forecastle, these birds are invisible during calm or bright 
weather ; but when the sky lowers, and a storm is impending, 
suddenly, no one knows whence, forth come these Ul-omened heralds 
of the tempest, inspiring more terror than would be caused even 
by the hurricane which they are supposed to commence. In reality, 
the Petrels are scarcely birds of the day ; they love to hide them- 
selves in holes and behind stones. It is not, therefore, surprising 
that when the sea is calm, and the sun bright, they lurk in their 
hiding-places, if near enough to land ; or, if on the open ocean, lie 
asleep on the surface of the water, unnoticed, because still and of 
small size. An overcast sky, however, awakes them as twilight 
would, and they leave their hiding-places, or rise from their watery 
bed, not because a storm is impending, but because the cloud which 
accompanies the storm brings them the desired gloom. When in 
motion they are more conspicuous than when at rest, and they 
foUow the wake of a ship for the same reason that other sea-fowl 
do, for the sake of the offal thrown overboard. They will some- 
times accompany a ship for days, showing that they have untiring 
power of wing, and to all but the superstitious greatly relieving 
the monotony of the voyage. 

The Petrel builds its nest, a rude structure of weeds and rubbish, 
either in the hole of a cliff or under stones on the beach, and lays 
a single egg. It rarely comes abroad by day, and if disturbed ejects 
from its mouth an oily matter, after the manner of the Fulmar. 
Towards evening it comes forth from its stronghold, and skims the 
sea in quest of food, which consists of floating animal matter of all 
kinds. Its name. Petrel, or Little Peter, is derived from its habit 
of occasionally skimming along so close to the surface of the sea as 
to dip its feet in the water, and present the appearance of walking ; 
but its ordinary flight is very like that of the Swallow. 

The Storm-Petrel breeds in the Orkney, Shetland, and SciUy 
Islands and a few on the Welsh coast, also in the Channel Islands, 
but a genuine ocean-bird quits the land as soon as its young are 
able to accompany it. It is frequently seen in the Atlantic and 



3o8 THE FORK-TAILED PETREL 

Mediterranean, and is not an uncommon visitor to our shores, 
especially during severe weather. 

Its note is only heard during the season of incubation, when its 
retreat is often betrayed by a low twittering. 

Storm-Petrels are gregarious birds ; they breed in colonies, 
and skim the sea in small flocks. The French steamers which sail 
between Toulon and Algiers are said to be regularly accompanied 
by these birds. 



THE FORK-TAILED PETREL 

PROCELLARIA LEUCORRHOA 

General plumage like the last ; tail forked ; legs moderate ; membrane dusky 
Length seven and a quarter inches. Eggs white, marked with small 
rusty spots. 

The Fork-Tailed Petrel, a native of North America, does not 
differ materially in habits from the other species. It is met with 
almost annually on our east coast, and is common off Cornwall. 
In Ireland it is frequent. This species was first declared to be 
a British bird by Bullock, who found it at St. Kilda in 1818. 



Addition for page 302. 
THE BLACK-NECKED OR EARED GREBE 

PODICIPES NIGRICOLLIS 

In summer the head and neck of this species are black, with a triangular 
patch of long golden-reddish feathers on the ear-coverts. Breast and 
belly white— flanks a dull chestnut, bill black, upcurved slightly. In 
winter it resembles the last named Grebe in plumage, excepting that it 
is white on the primaries. Length twelve inches. 

This is essentially a bird of the south, visiting us in spring and 
summer, but also now and again in autumn and winter, but this 
more rarely. It is said to have bred occasionally in the southern 
counties, and more often in Suffolk and Norfolk. To the north it 
becomes more scarce, although it has been observed up to the 
Orkneys. Just a few instances are recorded from Cumberland, but 
the bird is rare on our western side. Very few have been met with 
in Ireland. In Algeria it is said to nest in " societies more densely 
crowded than any rookery," the nests being raised on islets with 
stout foundations constructed by the bird. In Denmark the nests 
observed were on tussocks at the edge of the lake, and they were 
made of moss, part of which the female used to cover her eggs with 
on leaving them. 



GLOSSARY OF COMMON AND 
PROVINCIAL NAMES AND OF TECHNICAL 

TERMS. 



(J : male 

Aberdeen Sandpiper : a name for 
the Knot 

Aberdevine : a name for the 
Siskin 

Accentor, Hedge : Sparrow. Chan- 
ter or Warbler 

Alk : the Razorbill 

Allamotte : the Petrel 

Allan : the Skua 

Alp : a name for the Bullfinch 

Annet : the Kittiwake Gull 

Arctic-bird : the Skua 

Arctic Skua 
„ Tern 

Assilag : the Petrel 

Awl : the Woodpecker 



Badock : the Skua 

Bank jug : the ChiS-chaff and 
Willow Warbler 

Bargander : the Sheldrake 

Barley-bird : the Siskin and Wry- 
neck 

Barred or Lesser-spotted Wood- 
pecker 

Bar-tailed Godwit 

Basal : at or near the base 

Beam-bird : the Spotted Fly- 
catcher 

Bean Crake : the Land-Rail 
„ Goose 



9 t female 

Bearded Reedling 

Bee-bird : a name sometimes 

given to the Flycatcher ; 

sometimes to the Willow 

Warbler 

„ -eater 

,, -hawk : the Honey Buzzard 

Beech-finch : the Chaffinch 

Bergander : the Sheldrake 

Bernicle Goose 

Billy : the Hedge Sparrow 

Billy-whitethroat : the White- 
throat 

Bittern 

Black-a-top : the Stonechat 

Black-billed Auk : a name given 
to the Razor-bill In the winter 
plumage of the first year 

Blackcap : a name sometimes 
given to the Black-headed GuU, 
the Marsh Tit, and Coal Tit 

Black Duck : the Scoter 

Blacky-top : the Stonechat 

Bloodulf : the Bullfinch 

Blind Dorbie : the Purple Sand- 
piper 

Blue-backed Falcon : the Pere- 
grine Falcon 
„ -bird : the Field-fare 
„ -cap : the Blue Tit 
„ Darr : the Black Tern 
„ Hawk : the Peregrine Falcon 



809 



3«« 



GLOSSARY 



Blue-headed Wagtail : the grey- 
headed Wagtail 
„ -tailed Bee-eater 
„ Tit : the Tom Tit, the Blue- 
cap 
,, -winged Shoveler : the 
Shoveler 
Boatswain : the Skua 
Brake-hopper : the Grasshopper 

Warbler 
Brambling, or Bramble-finch 
Bran : the Crow 
Brancher : the Goldfinch in its 

first year 
Brantail : the Redstart 
Brent Goose 

Broad-bill : the Shoveler 
Bronzie : the Cormorant 
Brook Ouzel : a name given to 
the Dipper, and incorrectly to 
the Water-Rail 
Brown Owl, or Tawny Owl 

„ -Leader Gull : Black- 
headed Gull, Red- 
headed Gull or Hooded 
Gull 
„ StarHng : a name some- 
times given to the 
young of the Starling 
„ Tern : the Tern in its 
Immature plumage 
Budfinch : the Bullfinch 
Bullfinch, Common 

Pine, or Pine Grosbeak 
Bunting, Lapland, or Finch 
Burgomaster : the Glaucous Gull 
Burrow Duck : the Sheldrsike 
Bustard, Great 



Cackareer : the Kittiwake Gull 

Caddaw : the Jackdaw 

Calloo : the Long-tailed Duck 

Cargoose : the Crested Grebe 

Carina te : in the form of a keel 

Carrion Crow 

CAi-swallow : the Black Tern 



Cere : the wax-like membran* 
which covers the base of the bill 
in the Falconidae 
Chaldrick or Chalder : the Oyster- 
Catcher 
Chanchider : the Spotted Fly- 
catcher 
Channel Goose : the Gannet 
Chanter, Hedge : Sparrow, Ac- 
centor or Warbler 
Charlie Miftie : the Wheatear 
Chank, and Chank-daw : the 

Chough 
Chepster : the Starling 
Cherry-finch : the Hawfinch 
Cherry-sucker, Cherry-chopper, 
and Cherry-Snipe : the Spotted 
Flycatcher. 
Chevy Lin : the Redpoll 
Chickell : the Wlieatear 
Chickstone : the Stonechat 
Chippet Linnet : the Redpoll 
Church Owl : the White Owl 
Chum Owl : the Nightjar 
Churr : the Dunlin 
Cirl Bunting 
Clack Goose, Clakes : the Bemicle 

Goose 
Clatter Goose : the Brent Goose 
Clee : the Red Shank 
Cleff : the Tern 
Clinker : the Avocet 
Cloven-footed Gull : the Tern 
Coal-and-candle-light : the Long- 
tailed Duck 
Coal Goose : the Cormorant 
Coaly Hood : the Bullfinch or 

Coal Mouse 
Cob : the male Swan 
Cob : the Great Black-backed Gul 
Cobble : the Great Northern Diver 
Cobbler's Awl : the Avocet 
Cobweb : the Spotted Flycatche 
Cockandy : the Pufl&n 
Cock- winder : the Widgeon 
Coddy Moddy : the common Gull 
In Its first year's plumage 



GLOSSARY 



S»I 



Goldfinch : the Pled Flycatcher 

Colk : the King Duck 

Colin : a name m New Spain for 
Quail 

Compressed : flattened vertically 

Coot-foot : the Phalarope 

Copperfinch : the ChafiSuch 

Corbie : the Raven 

Comdrake : the Land-Rail 

Cornish Crow, or Daw : the 
Chough 

Gannet : the Skua 

Cornwall Kae : the Chough 

Coulterneb : the Pufl^ 

Crake, Little 

Spotted 

Crank bird : the Lesser Spotted 
Woodpecker 

Craw : part of the stomach In 
birds 

Cream-coloured Plover : Swift- 
foot or Courser 

Courser Gull : the Glaucous Gull 

Creeper, Creep-tree, or Tree- 
creeper. These names are in 
some places given to the Nut- 
hatch 

Crested Cormorant : the Shag 
,, Heron, Common or Grey 

Cricket-bird : the Grasshopper 
Warbler 

Cricket Teal : the Garganey 

Crooked Bill : the Avocet 

Crossbill : Common 

Cuckoo's Leader or Mate : the 
Wryneck 

Culmen : the ridge of the upper 
mandible 

Cultrate : In the form of a bill- 
hook or pruning knife 

Curlew- Jack : the Whimbrel 

Curwillet : the Sanderling 

Cushat : the Ring Dove 

Cutty Wren : the Common Wren 

Cygnet : the young Swan 

Daker Hen : the Land -Rail 



Danish Crow : the Hooded Crow 

Darr, Blue : the Black Tern 

Dertrum 

Depressed : flattened horizontally 

Deviling : the Swift 

Dick Dunnock : the Hedge Spar- 
row 

Dippearl : the Tern 

Dirty Allen : the Skua 

Dishwater : the Wagtail 

Diving Pigeon : the Guillemot 

Dobbler and Dobchick : the 
Lesser Grebe 

Door Hawk and Dorr Hawk : tho 
Nightjar, 

Dorbie : the Dunlin 

Doucker : a popular name for a 
Grebe or Diver 

Doveky : the Black Guillemot 

Dove-coloured Falcon : the Pere- 
grine Falcon 

Draine : the Missel Thrush 

Duck Hawk : the Marsh Harrier 

Ducker : a popular name for a 
Grebe or Diver 

Dulwilly : the Ring Plover 

Dunkir and Dunair : the Pochard 

Dun Crow : the Hooded Crow 

Dundiver : the female and young 
of the Merganser 

Dung Hunter : the Skua 

Dunlin 

Dunnock : the Hedge Sparrow 



Earl Duck : the Red-breasted 
Merganser 

Easterling : the Smew 

Ebb : the Bunting 

Ecorcheur : the Shrike 

Egret : a tuft of long narrow 
feathers found on the lower part 
of the neck of the Herons. The 
name is also sometimes ex- 
tended to the two tufts of fea- 
thers, resembling ears or horns. 
In some of the Owls 



3" 



GLOSSARY 



Elk : the Hooper Swan 
Emmer or Ember Goose : tne 

Great Northern Diver 
Emmet Hunter : the Wryneck 
£me : the Eagle 



Falk or Falc : the Razor-bill 
Faller : the Hen Harrier 
Fallow Chat, Fallow Finch, Fallow 
Lunch, or Fallow Smich : the 
Wheatear 
Fanny Redtail : the Redstart 
Fauvette : the Garden Warbler, 
also applied to others of the 
Warblers. 
Feather-poke : I.e. " sack of 
feathers " Is the Chiff-chaff, 
so called from the materials 
and form of the nest 
Felt and Feltyfare : the Fieldfare 
Fiddler : the Common Sandpiper 
Field Duck : the Little Bustard 
Field Lark : the Skylark 
Fiery Linnet : the Common Lin- 
net 
Finch, or Lapland Bunting 
Fire-crested Regulus or Wren 
Fire-tail : the Redstart 
Flapper : a young Duck 
Flopwing : the Lapwing 
Flusher : the Butcher-bird 
Foot : The foot of a bird consists 
of four, never less than three, 
toes, with their claws, and the 
joint next above, called the 
" tarsus " 
French Linnet : the Redpoll 

,, Magpie : the Red -backed 
Shrike 
Pie : the Great Spotted 
Woodpecker. 



Gaggle : a flight of Wild Geese 
Gairfowl : the Auk and the 
Razorbill 



Gallinule : the Moor Hen ; this 
name is sometimes applied to 
the Crakes 

Gallwell Drake : the Land Drake 

Garden Ouzel : the Blackbird 
Warbler 

Gardenian Heron : the young of 
the Night Heron 

Gaunt : the Crested Grebe 

Gidd : the Jack Snipe 

Gillhowter : the White Owl 

Gladdy : the Yellow Hammer 

Glaucous Gull 

Glead, Gled, or Glade : the 
Kite 

Goat Owl and Goat-sucker : the 
Nightjar 

Goldeneye 

Golden-crested Regulus, Warbler 
or Wren 
Oriole or Thrush 
,, Plover 

Gorcock : the Moor Cock 

Gorsehatch : the Wheatear 

Gorse-duck : the Com Crake 

Gorse Linnet : the Common 
Linnet 

Goud Spink : the Goldfinch 

Gouldring : the Yellow Ham- 
mer 

Gourder : the Petrel 

Gouk : the Cuckoo 

Graduated : a term applied to 
the tail of a bird when the 
middle feathers are longest 
and the outer ones are shorter 
in gradation 

Greenwich Sandpiper : the RufE 

Grey : the Gadwall 

Grey-bird : the Thrush 

Grey-Duck : the Gadwall 
„ Coot-footed Tringa : the 
Phalarope I 

„ Crow : the Hooded Crow 
„ Falcon : the Hen Harrier 
„ Heron : common or Crested 
Heron 



GLOSSARY 



313 



Grey Lapwing, or Sandpiper : the 
Grey Plover 
„ Linnet : the Common Linnet 
„ Owl : the White Owl 
„ Partridge : the Common 

Partridge 
„ Shrike, Lesser : the Ash- 
coloured Shrike 
„ Skit : the Water-Rail 
„ -lag : Fen, Stubble, or Wild 
Goose 
Grisette : the Whitethroat 
Ground Lark : the Pipit and 
Bunting 
Wren : the Willow War- 
bler 
Guldenhead : the PuflB.n 
Gull-tormentor : the Skua 
Gunner : the Great Northern 

Diver 
Gurfel : the Razorbill 
Gustarda : the Bustard 



Hackbolt : the Greater Shear- 
water 

Hadji : the Swift 

Hagdown ; the Greater Shear- 
water 

Haggard : the Peregrine Falcon 

Hagister : the Magpie 

Half-Curlew : the Whimbrel ajid 
God wit 
„ -Duck : the Wigeon, Po- 
chard, etc. 
,, -Snipe : the Jack Snipe 

Harle : the Red -breasted Mer- 
ganser 

Harpy : the Marsh Harrier 

Hawk Owl : this name is some- 
times given to the Short-eared 
Owl 

Hay-bird, or Hay-Tit : the Willow 
Warbler 

Hav-Jack : the Garden War- 
bler and Whitethroat 

Heather Bleater : the Snipe 



Heath Throstle : the Ring Ouzel 
Hebridal Sandpiper : the Turn- 
stone 
Heckimal : the Blue Tit 
Hedge-Chicken : the Wheatear 

-Jug, the Long-tailed Tit 
Hegrilskip : the Heron 
Helegug : the Puffin 
Hellejay : the Razor-bill 
Hern, Hernshaw, Heronshaw : the 

Heron 
Heronsewgh : the Heron 
Herring-bar : perhaps a corrup- 
tion of Herring-bird, Diver 
Herring Gant : the Gannet 

Gull 
Hew-hole : the Woodpecker 
Hickwall : the Lesser Spotted 

Woodpecker 
High-hoo : the Woodpecker 
Hiogga : the Razor-bill 
Hissing Owl : the White Owl 
Hoarse Gowk : the Snipe 
Hoddy : the Crow 
Holm Cock and Holm Screech: 

the Mistle Thrush 
Hoop : the Bullfinch 
Hornfinch : the Petrel 
Horniwinks : the Lapwing 
Horra : the Brent Goose 
Horsefinch : the Chaffinch 
Horsmatch : the Red-backed 
Shrike, the Wheatear and Whin- 
chat 
H owlet : the Brown Owl 
Howster : the Knot 
Huckmuck : the Long-tailed Tit 
HuUat : the Owl 



Icebird : the Little Auk 

Imber, or Great Northern Diver 

Isle of Wight Parson : the Cor- 
morant 

Iris {plural, Irides) : the coloured 
circle of the eye surrounding 
the pupil 



314 



GLOSSARY 



Isaac : the Hedge Sparrow 
Ivy Owl : the Barn Owl 



Jack Curlew : the Whimbrel 

Jackdaw 

Jack-nicker : the Goldfinch 

„ Saw : the Goosander 

„ Snipe 
Jar Owl : the Night Owl 
Jay, Jay Pie, or Jay Pyet 
Jenny : the Wren 
Jid or Judcock : the Jack Snipe 



Kadder and Kae : the Jackdaw 
Kamtschatka Tern : the Black 

Tern 
Katabella : the Hen Harrier 
Kate : the Hawfinch 
Katogle : the Eagle Owl 
Kiddaw : the Guillemot 
King-Harry : the Goldfinch 
Kip : the Tern 
Kirktullock : the Shoveler 
Kirmew and Kirmow : the Tern 
Knee : a name often given, 

though inaccurately, to the 

junction of the tarsus and tibia 

of a bird. 
Knot 



Lamhi or Lavy : the Guillemot 
Land Curlew : the Great Plover 
Lary : the Guillemot 
Laughing Goose : the White- 
fronted Goose 
Lavrock : the Skylark 
Leg-bird : the Sedge Warbler 
Lesser wing-coverts : the feathers 
which overlie the greater wing- 
coverts, or those next the quills 
Ling-bird : the Meadow Pipit 
Linlet : a young Linnet 
Lobefoot : the Phalarope 
/ Long-tongue : the Wryneck 



Loom or Loon : the Diver 
Lore : the space between the beak 

and the eye 
Lough Diver : the Smew 
Lum, Lungy : the Guillemot 
Lumme : the Diver 
Lyre : the Manx Shearwater 

Madge H owlet : the White Owl 

Maglowan : a name for the Divers 

Magpie Diver : the Smew 

Malduck, or Malmarsh : the Ful- 
mar 

Mallemoke : the Fulmar 

Mandibles : upper and under, the 
two portions of a bird's bill 

Man-of-war bird : the Skua 

Manx Shearwater : the Manx 
Petrel 

Market jew Crow : the Chough 

Marrot : the Guillemot and 
Razorbill 

May-bird, or Mayf owl : the Whim- 
brel 

Mavis : the Thrush 

Meadow Crake, or Drake : the 
Gallinule 
Pipit, Titlark or Titling 

Meggy-cut-throat : the White- 
throat 

Merlie : the Blackbird 

Mew or Mow : a Gull 

Millithrum : the Long-tailed Tit 

Minute Gallinule : the Little 
Crake 
„ Merganser : the young 

Smew 
„ Tringa, the Little Stint 

Mire Snipe : the Snipe 

Mistle Thrush, or MistletoeThrush 

Mitty : the Petrel 

Mock-bird : the Sedge Warbler 
„ Nightingale : the Blackcap 
and Garden Warbler 

Monk : the Bullfinch 

Moor Blackbird, or Ouzel : th« 
Ring Ouzel 



GLOSSARY 



3x5 



Moor Hen, or Water Hen 

Morrot : the Guillemot 

Moss-cheeper : the Meadow Pipit 

Mother Carey's Chickens : the 
Petrels 

Mountain Linnet : the Twite 

Ouzel : the Ring Ouzel 

Mouse Hawk or Owl : the Hawk 
Owl 

Mow : a Gull 

Mud-plover : the Grey Plover 

Muggy : the Whitethroat 

Mullet : the Puffm 

Mumruffin : the Long-tailed Tit 

Murdering-bird : the Butcher- 
bird 

Nape : the upper part of the neck 

behind 
Neck-a-pecker and Nickle : the 

Woodpecker 
Night-crow, or Night-hawk : the 
Nightjar 

„ Heron 
Nope : the Bullfinch 
Norfolk Plover : the Great Plover 
Norie : the Cormorant 
Northern Crow : the Hooded Crow 
Norway Lark : the Snow Bunting 
Nun : the Blue Tit 



Oke : the Auk 

Olive : the Oyster-catcher 

Olive-tufted Duck : the Golden- 
eye 

Operculum : a lid or covering 

Orbit : the skin that surrounds 
the eye, and in some birds is 
destitute of feathers 

Ouzel, Water, or Dipper 

Oven-bird : the Chiff-ChafE, Wil- 
low Warbler, and Wood Warbler 

Owl, Long- eared or Horned 
„ Short-eared or Little-horned 
„ Tawny or Brown 



Padge and Padge Owl : the Barn 

Owl 
Palmipedes : Web-footed Birds 
Pandle-whew : the Wigeon 
Parasitic Gull : the Skua 
Parrot, Ailsa : the Pufi&n 
Sea : the Puffin 
Parson Mew : the Black-backed 

Gull 
Passerine : belonging to the order 
Passeres 
„ Warbler : the Garden 
Warbler 
Pea-finch : the Chaffinch 
Pearl : the Tern 
Pease Crow : the Tern 
Peck : the Bar-tailed Godwlt 
Pectinated : cut like a comb 
Peese-weep : the Peewit, also 
sometimes given to the Green- 
finch 
Peggy : the Wren, Whitethroat 

and the Garden Warbler 
Peggy cut- throat : the White- 
throat 
Petrel : the name Petrel is in 
some places given to the God- 
wit 
Pettychaps, Greater : the Garden 
Warbler 
„ Lesser : the ChifE-chafi 
Philomel : the Nightingale 
Pianet : the Magpie, and Oyster- 
catcher 
Picarini : the Avocet 
Pick-cheese : the Tom-Tit and 

Great Tit 
Pickmire : the Black-headed Gull 
Picktarney and Picket : the Tern 
Pictam : the Black-headed Gull 
Pie, Sea : the Oyster-catcher 
Pied Diver : the Smew 
,, Wagtail 

„ Wigeon : the Garganey, and 
Goldeye 
Pie-finch : the Chaffinch 
Pienet and Piet : the Magpie 



3i« 



GLOSSARY 



Piet, Water : the Water Ouzel 

Pigeon Hawk : the Sparrow Hawk 
„ Mow, Red-legged : the 
Blackheaded Gull In its 
winter plumage 

Pigmy Curl 00, or Sandpiper 

Pine Bullfinch, or Pine Grosbeak 

Pink : the Chaffinch 

Pink-footed Goose 

Pinnock : a Tit 

Pint : the Laughing Gull 

Pintail Duck 

Pirenet : the Sheldrake 

Plover's Page : the Purple Sand- 
piper 

Poke-Pudding : the Long-tailed 
Tit 

Pocker, or Poker : the Pochard 

Pomarine Skua, or Gull, Twist- 
tailed 

Poor-willie : the God wit 

Pop : the Redwing 

Pope : the Puffin 

Popinjay : the Green Wood- 
pecker 

Port-Egmont Hen : the Common 
Skua 

Post-bird : the Spotted Fly- 
catcher 

Provence Furzel : the Dartford 
Warbler 

Proud-tailor : the Goldfinch 

Pucke ridge : the Nightjar 

Pudding-poke : the Long-tailed 
Tit 

Puffin 

Puffinet : the Black Guillemot 

Purple Sandpiper 

Purre : the Dunlin 

Puttock : the Buzzard and Kite 

Pywipe : the Lapwing 

Primaries : the quills, usually 
ten, of the terminal joint of 
a bird's wing. 

Que : the Night Heron 
Quaketail : the Wagtail 



Queest or Quest : the Ring-dovo 
Queet : the Coot and Guillemot 
Quills : the large feathers of the 
wing, called primary, or digital ; 
secondary or cubital ; and 
tertiary, or humeral ; accord- 
ing as they arise from the ter- 
minal, middle, or inner joint 
Quill-coverts : a row of feathers 
immediately covering the base 
of the quills above and below, 
and therefore called upper and 
under 
Quinck : the Goose 



Rafter-bird: the Spotted Fly- 
catcher 
Rail, Land 

Rain-bird : the Green Wood- 
pecker 
„ -Goose : the Red -throated 
Diver 
Raptores : Birds of Prey 
Rasores : Gallinaceous Birds 
Rattle-wings : the Golden- 
eye 
Redcap : the Goldfinch 
Red Godwit : the Bar-tailed 
God wit 
„ Grouse 
Red-headed Linnet : the Common 
Linnet and Redpoll 
„ Pochard : the Common Po- 
chard 
„ Wigeon : the Common Wigeon 
„ Hoop : the Bullfinch 
»» -legged Crow : the Chough 
„ „ Godwit : the Spotted 

Sandpiper 
„ „ Gull, the Black-headed 

Gull 
„ „ Partridge 
„ -necked Coot-foot, Lobe-foot, 
or Phalarope 
Red Sandpiper : the Knot in its 
summer plumage 



GLOSSARY 



s>r 



Redstart, Common 

Black 
Red-throated Diver 
Red-winged Blackbird : Maize- 
bird, or Starling 
Reed-bird : the Sedge Warbler 
Reed Bunting : the Black-headed 
Bunting 
„ Fauvette : the Sedge Warbler 
„ Pheasant : the Bearded Tit 
„ Sparrow : the Black-headed 

Bunting 
„ Warbler or Wren 
Reeve : the female of the Rufi 
Richardson's Skua 
Richel Bird : the Lesser Tern 
Rind-tabberer : the Green Wood- 
pecker 
Ring Blackbird : the Ring Ouzel 

Dove 
Ringed Dotterel, or Plover 
„ Guillemot 

„ -necked or Great Northern 
Diver 
Ring-tailed Eagle : the Golden 
Eagle in its second year's 
plumage 
Rippock : the Tern 
Rochie : the Little Auk 
Rock -birds : the Auk, PuflBin, and 
Guillemot 
„ Dove, Rocker Dove, Rockier 

Dove 
„ Hawk : the Merlin 
„ Lark, or Pipit 
„ Ouzel : the Ring Ouzel 
„ Sandpiper : the Purple 
Sandpiper 
Rodge : the Gadwall 
Rood Goose, or Brent Goose 
Rose-coloured Ouzel, Pastor, Star- 
ling or Thrush 
„ Linnet : the Redpoll, and 
Common Linnet 
Rotck, or Rotcke : the Little 

Auk 
Rothermuck : the Bemicle Goose 



Ruddock : the Redbreast, Robin 
Ruddy Goose, or Sheldrake 

„ Plover : the Bar-tailed 
Godwit 
Ruff (female Reeve) 
Runner : the Water-Rail 

„ Stone : the Ringed Plover 

St. Cuthbert's Duck: the Eider 
St. Martin's Snipe : the Jack 

Snipe 
Sandcock : the Redshank 
Sanderling 

Sandsnipe : a Sandpiper 
Sandwich Tern 
Sandy-loo : the Ring Plover 
,, Poker : the Pochard 
Sarcelle : the Long-tailed Duck 
Saw-bill : the Merganser 
Scale Drake : the Sheldrake 
Scallop-toed Sandpiper : the Pha- 

larope 
Scammel : the Bar-tailed Godwit 
Scapulars : the feathers which 

rise from the shoulders and 

cover the sides of the back 
Scar Crow : the Black Tern 
Scarf and Scart : the Shag 
Scaurie : the Herring Gull 
Scooper : the Avocet 
Scotch Goose : the Brent Goose 
Scout : the Common Guillemot 
Scurrit : the Lesser Tern 
Scrabe : the Manx Shearwater 
Scraber : the Black Guillemot 
Scraye : the Tern 
Screamer and Screecher : the 

Swift 
Screech : the Missel-Thrush 
„ Martin : the Swift 
Owl : the Barn Owl 
Scull : the Skua 
Scuttock : the Guillemot 
Sea Crow : the Cormorant, and 
Black-headed Gull 

„ Dotterel : the Turnstone 
„ Hen : the Guillemot 



SX« 



GLOSSARY 



Sea Lark : the Rock Pipit and 

Rin;^ Plover 
Mall, Mew, or Mow : the Gull 
Parrot : the Puffin 
Pheasant : the Pintail Duck 
Pie : the Oyster-catcher 
Sandpiper : the Purple Sand- 
piper 
Snipe : the Dunlin 
Swallow : the Tern 
Titling : the Rock Pipit 
Turtle-dove : the Guillemot 

and Rotche 
Wigeon : the Scaup 
Woodcock : the Godwit 
Seaford Goose : the Brent Bemicle 
Secondaries : the quill-feathers 
arising from the second joint of 
the wing 
Sedge-bird, Sedge Warbler, or 

Sedge Wren 
Selninger Sandpiper : the Purple 

Sandpiper 
Serrator : the Ivory Gull 
Serrated : toothed like a saw 
Serrula : the Red-breasted Mer- 
ganser 
Sheldapple : the Crossbill 

This name and " Shelly " are 
sometimes given to the Chaf- 
finch 
Shepster : the Starling 
Shilfa : the Chaffinch 
Shoeing-hom : the Avocet 
Shore-bird : the Sand Martin 
Pipit : the Rock Pipit 
Short-eared or -horned Owl 
Shrieker : the Black-tailed Godwit 
Shrimp-catcher : the Lesser Tern 
Shrite : the Missel Thrush 
Silvery Gull : the Herring Gull 
Skart : the Cormorant, and Shag 
Skein : a flight of Geese 
Skiddaw : the Guillemot 
Skiddy Cock, Skilty, or SkSt : the 

Water-Rail 
Skite : tbe Yellow Hammer 



Skitty : the Spotted Crake 

Skrabe : the Black Guillemot 

Snake-bird : the Wryneck 

Snite : the Snipe 

Snow-bird : the Ivory Gull 

-Bunting : Flake, or Fleck 

Snuff-headed Wigeon : the Po- 
chard 

Solan, or Solent Goose : the Gannet 

Solitary Snipe : the Great Snipe 

Song Thrush : the Common 
Thrush 

Sparlm-fowl : the female Mergan- 
ser 

Spectacle Duck : the Goldeneyo 

Speculum : the bright feathers 
which form a kind of disc of 
the wing of the Ducks 

Speckled-bellied Goose : the White- 
fronted Goose 
„ Diver : the young of the 
Great Northern Diver 

Spider-diver : the Dabchick 

Speney : the Petrel 

Spink : the Chaffinch 

Spoonbill, White 

Spotted-necked Turtle Dove : the 
Turtle Dove 

Sprat Loon, the young of the 
Great Northern Diver 
Mew : the Kittiwake Gull 

Spurre : the Tern 

Standgale, or Stannel : the Kestrel 

Starling, Common, Stare, or 
Starenil 

Staynil : the Starling 

Steel Duck, Larger : the Goosander 
,, ,, Lesser : the Merganser 

Stint : the Dunlin, or any similar 
bird, Is often so called on the 
coast 

Stock-Dove 

Stonechacker or Stoneclink : Stone- 
chat 

Stone Curlew : the Great Plover 

Stonegale : the Kestrel 

Stone Hawk : the Merlin 



GLOSSARY 



S19 



Stone-smirch : the Wheateai 

Stork, White 

Storm Cock : the Missel Thrush 
Petrel, or Storm Finch 

Straney : the Guillemot 

Summer Snipe : the Sandpiper 
„ Teal : the Garganey 
„ Duck, or Sheldrake : the 
Long-tailed Duck 

Sweet William : the Goldfinch 

Swiftfoot : the Courser 

Swimmer, Little : the Phalarope 

Swine-pipe : the Redwing 



Tail-coverts : upper and under, 
feathers covering the basal 
portion of the tail feathers above 
and below 

Tailor, Proud : the Goldfinch 

Tammie Cheekie and Tammie 
Norie : the Puffin 

Tang-waup : the Whimbrel 

Tangle-picker : the Turnstone 

Taring, Tarrot : the Tern 

Tarrock : the young of the Kitti- 
wake Gull 

Tarse : the male Falcon, a name 
used in falconry 

.Tarsus : the bone of a bird's 
foot next above the toes. In 
a domestic fowl the tarsus is the 
portion between what is called 
the " drumstick " and the toes ; 
the shank 

Tatler : a Sandpiper 

Teal Cricket : the Garganey 

Teaser : the Skua 

Teewit : the Peewit 

Tertiaries : the quills which spring 
from the third or inner joint of 
a bird's wing 

Thistlefinch : the Goldfinch 

Three- Toed Sandgrouse 

Thrice-cock : the Mistle Thrush 

Throstle : the Thnjsh 



Tibia : the joint of a bird's leg 

next above the tarsus ; the 

" drumstick." 
Tick : the Whinchat 
Tidley : the Wren 
Tinkershere, or Tinker's hue : 

the Guillemot 
Tippet Grebe : the Crested Grebe 
Titlark, and Titling : the Meadow 
Pipit 
„ Sea : the Rock Pipit 
Tom Pudding : the Dabchick 
Tommy Norie : the Puflin 
Tomtit : the Blue Tit 
Tony Hoop : the Bullfinch 
Tope : the Wren 
Tom Harry : the Skua 
Tor-Ouzel : the Ring Ouzel 
Towilly : the Sanderling 
Tonite : the Wood Warbler 
Tree Pipit, or Lark 

„ Sparrow 

,, Sheeler : the Tree Creeper 
Tuchit : the Lapwing Plover 
Tufted Duck 
Tuliac : the Skua 
Turkey-bird : the Wryneck 
Turtle, Sea : the Guillemot and 

Ricke 
Twink : the Chaffinch 
Twit Lark : the Meadow Pipit 
Tystie : the Black Guillemot 



Ulnia : the Tawny Owl 

Under tail-coverts : the feathers 

which overlap the base of the 

tail beneath 
Under wing-coverts : the feathers 

which cover the wings beneath 
Upper tail-coverts : the feathers 

which overlap the base of the 

tail above 
Upper wing-coverts : the feathers 

which overlap the base of the 

quills 
Utick : the Whinchat 



3»« 



GLOSSARY 



Vare Wigeon : the Smew 
Velvet Runner : the Water-Rail 

Wagell : the young of the Great 

Black-backed Gull 
Wall Hick : the Lesser Spotted 

Woodpecker 
Wash-dish and Washerwoman : 

the Pied Wagtail 
Water-hen : the Moor-hen 
Crow, the Dipper 
Junket : the Common Sand- 
piper 
Ouzel or Dipper 
Sparrow : the Sedge War- 
bler 
Tie : the Wagtail 
Wagtail : the Pied Wagtail 
Waxen Chatterer or Waxwing 
Wease-alley : the Skua 
Weasel Coot : the young Smew 

„ Duck : the Smew 
Weet-weet : the Common Sand- 
piper 
Wellplum : the Red-headed Po- 
chard 
Whaup : the Curlew 
Whautie : the Whitethroat 
Wheel-bird, or Wheeler : the 

Nightjar 
Wheety-why : the Whitethroat 
Winthrush : the Redwing 
Whit-ile, i.e. Whittle : the Green 

Woodpecker 
Whewer : the Wigeon 
Whey-bird : the Whitethroat 
Whilk : the Scoter 
Whim : the Wigeon 
Whimbrel or May-bird 
Whin Linnet : the Common 

Linnet 
Whistling Plover : the Golden 

Plover 
Whistling Swan : the Whooper 

Swan 
White Baker : the Spotted Fly- 
catcher 



White-breasted Blackbird : the 
Ring or Water Ouzel 
-faced Duck : the Pochard 
Tinch : the Chaffinch 
-headed Goosander : the 

Smew 
-headed Cormorajit : the 

Common Cormorant 
-headed Harpy : the Moor 

Buzzard 
Nun : the Smew 
-spot Cormorant : the 

Common Cormorant 
-tail : the Wheatear 
-Winged Black Duck : the 
Velvet Scoter 
Whitterick : the Curlew 
Whitty-beard : the Whitethroat 
Whitwall and Witwall : the Green 

Woodpecker 
Wierangel : the Ash-coloured 

Shrike 
Willock and Willy : the Guille- 
mot 
Willow-biter : the Tomtit 
Willywicket : the Common Sand- 
piper 
Windhover and Windfanner : che 

Kestrel 
Windle, Winnard, and Wind- 
thrush : the Redwing 
Wing-coverts : several rows of 
feathers covering the basal part 
of the quills above and below, 
and called the upper and under 
wing-coverts ; the feathers out- 
side these are called the lesser 
wing-coverts 
Winglet : a process arising from 
near the base of the terminal 
joint of the wing, answering 
to the thumb In the human 
hand 
Winn el and Windle-Straw : the 

Whitethroat 
Winter-bonnet : the Common Gull 
Duck : the Pintail Duck 



GLOSSARY 



3»« 



Winter-Gull, or Mew : the Com- 
mon Gull in its winter 
plumage 
„ Wagtail : the grey-headed 
Wagtail 
Witch : the Petrel 
Witwall : the Green Woodpecker 
Woodcock Owl : the Short-eared 
Owl 
„ Sea : the Godwlt 

„ -Snipe: the Great Snipe 

Woodcracker : the Nuthatch 
Wood Grouse : the CapercaiUie 
Woodpie : the Green Woodpecker 
Wood Sandpiper 

Shrike Woodchat 
Woodspite, Woodwall, and Wood- 
wele : the Green Woodpecker 
Wood Warbler, or Wren 
Writing Lark : the Bunting, so 
called from the markings of the 
egg* 



Yaffil, YafHe, Yaffler, Yappingale : 

the Green Woodpecker 
Yard keep and Yarwhip : the Bar- 
tailed Godwit 
Yarwhelp : the Stone Plover and 

Godwit 
Yeldrin and Yeldrock : the Yellow 

Hammer 
Yellow legged Gull : the Lesser 
black-backed Gull 
„ Sandpiper : the young of 
the Ruff 
Owl : the White Owl 
„ Plover: the Golden 

Plover 
„ Poll : the Wigeon 
„ Warbler: the Willow 

Warbler 
« Yeldock, Yoit, Yoldrin 
and Yowley, the Yellow 
Hammer 
Yclper : the Avocet 



B. B. 



INDEX OF BIRDS AND OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



The first numeral refers to the text, the second to the illustration 
facing the page named. 



Auk, Little : 294 ; p. 294 
Avocet : 252 ; p. 250 

Bearded Reedling : 42 ; p. 46 

Bee-eater : 135 ; p. 134 

Bittern : 173 ; p. 232 

Blackbird : 7 ; pp. 6, 8 

Blackcap : 23 ; p. 22 

Brambling : 97 ; front 

Bullfinch : 10 1 ; p. 100 

Bunting, Cirl : 108 ; p. 108 

„ Corn (or common) : 106 ; 

p. 108 
„ Lapland : iii ; p. 108 
„ Reed : 109 ; p. 108 
„ Snow : no ; p. 108 
„ Yellow (Yellow Ham- 
mer) : 107 ; p. 116 

Burgomaster : see Gull, Glaucous 

Bustard, Great : 236 ; p. 220 

Buzzard, Common ; 150 ; p. 150 
„ Honey : 151 ; p. 150 
„ Rough-legged : 151 ; p. 
150 

Capercaillie : 212 ; p. 220 
Chaffinch : 95 ; p. 96 
Chiffchafi : 30 ; p. 30 
Chough : 56 ; p. 62 
Coot : 233 ; p. 232 
Cormorant, Common : 165 ; p. 
166 
„ Green : 167 
Courser, Cream-coloured : 240 ; 
p. 262 



Crake, Com : 228 ; p. 230 
„ Little : 230 ; p. 230 
,, Spotted : 229 ; p. 230 

Crane : 234 ; p. 234 

Crested Tit : see Titmice 

Crossbill : 103 : p. 138 

Two - barred (White- 
winged) : 106 ; p. 138 

Crow, Carrion : 65 ; p. 68 
,, Hooded : 67 ; p. 68 

Cuckoo : 137 ; p. 138 

Curlew, Common : 273 ; p. 246 

Dabchick : see Grebe, Little 
Dipper : 51 : p. 52 
Diver, Black - throated : 298 ; p. 
294 
„ Great Northern : 297 ; p. 

294 
„ Red-throated: 299; p. 294 
Dotterel : 244 ; p. 246 
Dove, Ring (Wood Pigeon) : 203 ; 
„ p. 208 
„ Rock : 208 ; p. 208 
„ Stock : 207 ; p. 208 
„ Turtle : 209 ; p. 208 
Duck, Black : see Scoter, Black 
Eider : 197 ; p. 198 
„ Golden-eye : 195 ; p. 194 
„ Longtailed : 196 ; p. 198 
„ Pintail : 190 ; p. 190 
„ Scaup : 194 
„ Tufted : 194 ; p. 194 
„ WUd : 185 ; p. 186 
Dunlin : 262 ; p. 262 
»s> % 



3*4 



INDEX 



Eagle, Golden : 152 ; p. 152 
„ Sea, or White-tailed : 

153 ; p- 152 

Spotted : 152 ; p. 132 

Falcon : ue Peregrine Falcon 
Fern Owl : see Nightjar 
Fieldfare : 3 ; p. 2 
Flycatcher, Pied : 79 ; p. 78 

„ Spotted : 77 ; p. 78 
Fulmar : $•* Petrel, Fulmar 

Gad wall : 189 ; p. 186 
Gallinule : see Moorhen 
Gannet : 168 ; p. 168 
Garganey : 192 ; p. 190 
Godwit, Bar-tailed : 272 ; p. 250 
„ Black-tailed : 273 ; p. 
270 
Gold Crest: see Wren 
Goldfinch : 88 ; p. 96 
Goosander: 201; p. 202 
Goose, Bean: 178; p. 178 
„ Bernicle: 181; p. 166 
„ Brent: 180; p. 166 
„ Grey Lag : 176; p. 178 
„ Pinkfooted: 179; p. 178 
„ White - fronted : 177; p. 
178 
Grebe : black - necked : 308 ; p. 
298 
„ Great-crested : 300 ; p. 

298 
„ Little : 302 ; p. 202 
„ Red-necked : 301 ; p. 

298 
„ Slavonian : 302 ; p. 298 
Greenfinch : 86 ; p. 78 
Greenshank : 271 ; p. 270 
Grosbeak, Pine : 102 
Grouse, Black : 213 ; p. 204 

,, Red : 215 ; p. 204 
Guillemot, Common : 292 ; p. 
290 
„ Black : 294 ; p. 290 
GuU, Black or Brown-headed : 
281 ; p. 282 



Gull, Common 1 283 ; p. 280 
„ Glaucous : 287 ; p. 280 
„ Great Black-backed : 286 j 

p. 280 
„ Herring : 285 ; p. 282 
„ Kittiwake : 287 ; p. 282 
„ Lesser Black - backed : 

285 ; p. 280 
„ Little : 281 ; p. 282 

Harrier, Hen : 148 ; p. 148 
„ Marsh : 147 ; p. 158 

Montagu's: 149; p. 148 
Hawfinch : 87 ; p. 96 
Hawk, Sparrow : 156 ; p. 158 
Heron, Common : 170 ; p. 234 

„ Night : 173 ; p. 234 
Hobby : 161 ; p. 158 
Hoopoe : 136 ; p. 134 

Jackdaw : 61 ; p. 68 
Jay : 58 ; p. 62 

Kestrel : 163 ; p. 148 

Kingfisher : 132 ; p. 134 

Kite : 158 ; p. 150 

Kittiwake : see Gull, Kittiwako 

Knot : 261 ; p. 258 

Lapwing : 247 ; p. 246 

Lark, Shore : 122 ; p. 120 
„ Sky : 119 ; p, 120 
„ Wood : 122 ; p. 120 

Linnet : 98 ; front 

,, Mountain : 100 ; p. loo 

Magpie : 59 ; p. 62 

Martin, House : 83 ; p. 84 

,, Sand : 84 ; p. 84 
Merganser : 202 ; p. 202 
Merlin : 162 ; p. 158 
Moorhen : 231 ; p. 232 

Nettlecreeper : see Whitethroat 
Nightingale : 17 ; p. 16 



INDEX 



PS 



Nightjar : 125 ; p. 220 
Nutcracker : 57 ; p. 58 
Nuthatch : 44 ; p. 46 



Oriole : 53 : P- 5* 

Osprey : 154 ; p. 152 

Owl, Bam or White : 142 ; p. 144 

„ Long - eared : 144 ; p. 144 

„ Short-eared : 145 ; p. 144 

„ Tawny or Brown : 146 ; p. 

144 

Ox-bird : see Dunlin 

Ox-eye : see Great Tit 

Oystercatcher : 248 ; p. 278 



Partridge, Common ! 222 ; p. 214 
„ Red-legged : 225 ; p. 
214 
Penguin : see Razorbill 
Peewit : see Lapwing 
Peregrine Falcon : 159 ; p. 148 
Petrel, Fork-taUed : 308 ; p. 302 
„ Fulmar : 304 ; p. 302 
„ Storm : 307 ; p. 302 
Phalarope, Grey : 253 ; p. 250 
„ Red-necked : 253 ; p. 

250 
Pheasant : 219 ; p. 220 
Pipit, Meadow: 117; p. 116 
„ Rock : 118 ; p. 116 
„ Tree : 116 ; p. 116 
Pigeon, Wood ; 203 ; p. 208 
Plover, Cream - coloured : 2 40 
Golden : 240 ; p. 240 
Green : 247 
Grey : 242 ; p. 240 
Kentish : 246 ; p. 240 
Ringed : 244 ; p. 240 
Stone or Great Norfolk ! 
239 ; P- 246 
Pochard (or Dunbird) : 193 ; p. 

194 
Pratincole : 238 ; p. 226 
Ptarmigan : 217 ; p. 226 
Puffin : 295 ; p. 290 



Quail : 226 ; p. 226 



Raven : 63 ; p. 62 
Razorbill : 291 ; p. 290 
Redbreast : see Robin 
Redpoll, Lesser : 99 ; p. 100 
Mealy : 99 ; p. 100 
Redstart : 14 ; p. 12 

Black : 16 ; p. 12 
Redshank : 269 ; p. 270 
Redwing : 2 ; p. 2 
Reedling, Bearded : see Bearded 

Reedling 
Reeve, Female of RufE : 266 
Ring Ouzel : 10 ; p. 6 
Ringtail : see Hen Harricj 
Robin : 16 ; p. 16 
Roller : 134 ; p. 134 
Rook : 68 ; p. 68 
RufiE and Reeve : 266 ; p. 270 

Sanderling : 260 ; p. 258 
Sandgrouse : 211 ; p. 226 
Sandpiper, Common : 268 ; p. 266 
„ Curlew : 261 ; p. 26C 
„ Green : 267 ; p. 266 
„ Purple : 264 ; p. 266 
Wood : 268 ; p. 258 
Scaup : 194 ; p. 194 
Scoter, Black (or Common) ; 
199; p. 198 
„ Surf : 201 
„ Velvet : 200 ; p. 198 
Shag : 167 ; p. 166 
Shearwater, Great : 305 ; p. 285 
Manx : 305 ; p. 302 
Sheld-drake : 184 ; p. 186 
Shoveler : 189 ; p. 186 
Shrike, Great Grey : 73 ; p. 58 
„ Lesser Grey : 74 
„ Red-backed : 74 ; p. 58 
„ Woodchat : 76 ; p. 58 
Siskin : 90 : p. 96 
Skua, Great : 288 ; p. 286 
,, Richardson's : 290 ; p, 286 
Twist- tailed : 289 ; p. 288 
Smew : 202 ; p. 202 



320 



INDEX 



Snipe, Common ; 257 ; p. 256 
Jack : 259 ; p. 256 
,, Great or Solitary : 256 ; 
p. 256 
Sparrow : House : 92 ; p. 85 
„ Hedge : 20 ; p. 16 

Tree : 94 ; p. 85 
Spoonbill, White: 176; p. 231 
Starling : 54 ; p. 47 
Stint, Rose-coloured : 56 ; p. 47 
„ Little : 265 ; p. 262 
,, Temminck's : 265 ; p. 262 
Stonechat : 13 ; p. 9 
Stork : 175 ; p. 234 
Stork, Black : 175 
Swallow : 80 ; p. 84 

,, Night : see Nightjar 

Swan, Bewick's : 181 ; p. 167 
„ \\Tiooper or Wild : 180 ; 
p. 167 
Swift : 123 ; p. 84 

Teal : 191 ; p. 190 
Tern, Arctic : 278 ; p. 271 
,, Black : 275 ; p. 271 
,, Common : 278 ; p. 278 
„ Little : 279 ; p. 278 
,, Roseate : 277 ; p. 271 
,, Sandwich : 276 ; p. 271 
Thick-knee : see Plover, Great, 230 
Tlorush, Song : i ; p. 2 

,, Mistle : i ; p. 2 
Titmouse, Great : 37 ; p. 34 
Blue : 39 ; p. 35 
„ Cole : 40 ; p. 35 
„ Marsh : 41 ; p. 35 
„ Bearded : 42 

„ Crested : 42 ; p. 35 
„ Long-tailed : 35 ; p. 

34 
Titlark : see Pipit, Meadow 



Tree-creeper : 47 ; p. 46 
Turnstone : 250 ; p. 378 
Twite : see Linnet, Mountain 

Wagtail, Blue-headed : 115 ; p. 
109 
Grey : 113 ; p. 109 
„ Pied : 112 ; p. 109 

„ Wliite : III ; p. 109 

,, Yellow : 115 ; p. 109 

Warbler : Dartford : 25 ; p. 31 
Garden : 23 ; p. 17 
Grasshopper : 28 ; p. 30 
Marsh : 27 ; p. 31 
Reed : 25 ; p. 31 
Sedge : 27 ; p. 31 
Willow : 31 ; p. 30 
Wood : 32 ; p. 30 
Waterhen : see Moorhen 
Water Rail : 230 ; p. 230 
Waxwing : 76 ; p. 69 
Wheatear : 10 ; p. 16 
Whimbrel : 275 ; p. 257 
Whin chat : 12 ; p. 9 
Whitethroat : 21 ; p. 17 

,, Lesser : 22 ; p. 17 
Wigeon : 192 ; p. 190 
Windhover : see Kestrel 
Woodcock : 254 ; p. 256 
Woodpecker, Green : 129 ; p. 178 
„ Great Spotted : 127 ; 

p. 128 
„ Lesser Spotted : 129 ; 

p. 128 
Wren, Common : 48 ; p. 46 
,, Gold-crested : 33 ; p. 34 
,, Fire-crested ; 35 ; p. 34 
Wryneck : 131 ; p. 128 

Yellow Hammer : see Bunting, 
Yellow 



QL Johns, Charles Alexander 
690 British birds in their 

G7J7 haunts 
1922 

BioMed 



PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY 



M.AV n 107%