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Title: Birds' Nests, Eggs and Egg-Collecting
Author: Kearton, Richard
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber Notes

Italic text is denoted by _underscores_ and bold text by =equal signs=.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Goldfinch.  2. Magpie.  3. Bullfinch.  4. Starling.
  5. Chaffinch.  6. Raven.  7. Linnet.  8. Rook.  9. Wren.

  Birds' Nests, Eggs
  and Egg-Collecting

  By R. Kearton, F.Z.S.

  Author of "With Nature and a Camera," "British
  Birds' Nests," "Wild Life at Home," etc. etc.

  _Illustrated with 22 Coloured Plates_


    Cassell and Company, Limited
    London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne

First printed _February 1890_. _Reprinted June 1890, May 1893._ New
and Enlarged Edition _January 1896_. _Reprinted June 1896, November
1898, July 1900, March 1902, September 1903, July 1905, December 1907,
January 1913._



The very kindly reception by the press, and a steady public
appreciation, have led to this endeavour to make my little book
more complete, by preparing an Enlarged Edition, including all
British-breeding birds that have now any reasonable claim for
treatment. The work deals with a number of more or less familiar winter
visitors that do not stay to breed with us; however, this is perhaps an
advantage nowadays, when we all travel much and far.

As mentioned in the preface to the first Edition, this book is not
intended to encourage the useless collecting of birds' eggs from a mere
_bric-à-brac_ motive, but to aid the youthful naturalist in the study
of one of the most interesting phases of bird life. It is to be hoped
that the Act of Parliament empowering County Councils to protect either
the eggs of certain birds, or those of all birds breeding within a
given area, will be of great benefit to many of our feathered friends.

Besides a pretty extensive experience, I have, in the preparation of
this work, sought the aid of such excellent authorities as Yarrel
(fourth Edition), Seebohm, Dixon, and others, to all of whom I
gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness.

                                                     R. KEARTON.

  Boreham Wood, Elstree, Herts,

                         Works by R. KEARTON,
                           F.Z.S., F.R.P.S.

                       KEARTON'S NATURE PICTURES


                         BRITISH BIRDS' NESTS

                           OUR BIRD FRIENDS

                        NATURE'S CAROL SINGERS

                          WILD NATURE'S WAYS

                       WITH NATURE AND A CAMERA

                         PICTURES FROM NATURE

                           WILD LIFE AT HOME

                     THE ADVENTURES OF COCK ROBIN
                             AND HIS MATE

                     THE ADVENTURES OF JACK RABBIT


             Cassell and Company, Ltd., London, New York,
                         Toronto and Melbourne



=The Problem of Preservation.=--As a rule the first subject to which
the young naturalist turns his attention is the most interesting one
within his reach, and that subject is undoubtedly found in bird-life;
particularly that portion of it which concerns the nests, eggs, young,
and various modes of nidification, for this is really the kernel of
ornithology. Its details teach him the utility of systematic study and
close observation, two important points in all matters of scientific

It is my intention in the following pages to furnish as full and
interesting particulars on Oology, which may fairly be entitled to the
dignity of a science, as can be found, or is likely to be required, in
any popular treatise of its modest compass.

This particular branch of natural history has been until lately but
indifferently studied--in fact, considered unworthy of higher attention
than that which could be bestowed upon it by schoolboys. People have
been content to know that the wonderful architecture and mechanism of
a bird's nest was the outcome of a force vaguely known as _instinct_,
without taking the trouble to discover its workings, extent, or limits.

Instinct is an extremely difficult power to define, and whether it be
described as "hereditary habit," or simply accepted as an unknown law
of Nature blindly followed by its possessor, it cannot be denied that
it is the outcome of conditions, and always amenable to them. If the
word mystery were often substituted for instinct, it would not be at
all out of place, for it means quite as much. It is more honest to
acknowledge our ignorance than to fence it round by speculative theory
or cover it by almost meaningless phrases. Survival of the fittest
is undoubtedly Nature's great law. With this end in view she governs
and regulates the actions of birds in exactly the same way as she
controls the colour and character of their plumage, shape, size, tint,
and number of their eggs, first movements of their young, and other
peculiarities we do not understand.

If we grant that birds possess highly-developed imitative faculties
and tenacious memories, with a discriminating power which enables them
to adapt certain habits of life to surrounding conditions, even this
fails to explain a great deal. Supposing it is the secret of their
beautiful nest-building, the house sparrow adopting trees to nest in
where the houses are built of brick and lack crevices, or the falcon
deserting its usual high inaccessible crag and nesting on the ground;
it cannot possibly account for a young duck taking the water directly
it has left the shell, or the habit of young plovers, snipes, grouse,
and other birds crouching flat when danger is overhead even as soon as
they are hatched. A stronger point still is migration, for birds cannot
return to their old haunts by a memory of landmarks, as pigeons do even
in their longest flights, for they fly over immense bodies of water
and traverse vast tracts of land by night, on wings the length and
strength of which have been specially developed for such long flights.
Some fly across great stretches of country, yet are never seen except
at the points from which they start and finish their flight. Neither
can these journeys be performed always under the guidance of leaders,
for all migratory birds do not travel in flocks.

I will endeavour to point out how Nature has solved the problem
of preservation; and it is equally interesting whether by the
self-governed action of the bird, or the blind following of an impulse
known only as instinct. Because we are unable to find any protective
colouration in the plumage of a bird, its eggs or nest, we must
not conclude that such peculiarity is a mere accident or useless
decoration, for it either serves some wise end unknown to us, or has
done so in far past ages, and is perpetuated because its possession is
not distinctly harmful, and may at some future date be again called
into requisition against danger. The extinction of nearly all birds
whose existence is reasonably well-known has not been due to natural
causes, but to man or the influence his civilisation has introduced.
Nature never made such a mistake as the introduction of rabbits and
sparrows into Australia. They are two potent forces turned loose into
practically unrestricted space, without any of their natural limiting

=Protective Colouring of Birds.=--The protective colour of the plumage
of certain birds is the great source of their safety during incubation.
For instance, birds which nidificate on the ground, such as Black
and Red Grouse, Pheasants, Partridges, and Sandpipers, all subject
to the depredations of winged and creeping enemies, are preserved by
the modification of their tints. The same means of security attend
their eggs and downy young, even the extreme simplicity of their nests
aiding the escape of detection. Birds whose down has protected them
during the early part of their history, become aware of the dangers
which threaten a more conspicuous plumage, which is a marvellous thing,
whether acquired by reasoning or instinct. This is proved by the action
of birds of the same order. The Golden Plover, with plumage in harmony
with the surroundings of her nest (her feathers being still further
subdued in colour during the breeding season), sits much closer than
the Green Plover, although a shyer bird, with eggs possessing the
same protective qualities. The Green Plover knows her plumage is much
more conspicuous than her eggs, and quietly slips away before danger
approaches half so near as the golden plover will allow it.

I am surprised to find so great an authority as Darwin assert that "the
species which represent each other in distinct countries will almost
always have been exposed to different conditions, but we can hardly
attribute to this action the modification of the plumage in the males
alone, seeing that the females and the young, though similarly exposed,
have not been affected."

Possibly such may be the case where no protective modification is
necessary in the female or young; but what about the fact that female
Red Grouse differ much in the colour of their plumage, according to the
conditions under which they live, though the males are left totally
unaffected? Instance the female Grouse, known as the "Moss-hen," always
found on the highest and most exposed situations where there is little
cover, consequently great need of harmonising colours: a strong point,
I venture to assert, in favour of protective utility.

Moulting has been rendered subject to the law of preservation in a
remarkable degree, for where birds are open to periodical changes of
surrounding conditions which materially affect their existence, they
are provided with an extra moult. For example, the Ptarmigan's plumage
is pure white for winter snow, and brown for summer heather.

The stoat's fur undergoes a similar change of colour; and more
marvellous still, to pursue the preservation argument into the water
world, take a common trout, and chase him up and down a shallow pool
until he has become thoroughly scared, and it will be found that
wherever he rests for a few seconds his colour will change in obedience
to that of the bed of the stream directly beneath him; so much so that
I have known one half of a trout very dark and the other half very
light coloured, correspondingly with objects beneath and around him.

Again, the same high authority points out that "the feathers of young
birds are in male and female similar to the female parent when she is
of a dull colour, but like the male when he is dull and the female
bright; also, when both parents are of a conspicuously bright colour
the young take a dull colour of their own"--for example, Robins. He
infers that these colours represent those of far distant progenitors;
but as safety lies in these modified tints, and preservation being
Nature's chief problem, it is more reasonable to suppose that Nature
lends this means of protection whilst the bird is in its most helpless
condition, for an evolution that tends to increase dangerously
conspicuous colours would only seem to invite extinction.

In another place he says "it deserves especial attention that brilliant
colours have been transferred much more rarely than other tints." Yes,
simply because they are generally a source of danger to the possessor.

Three familiar instances of special modifications in the plumage
of the female are to be found in the black grouse, pheasant, and
blackbird, all nidificating in situations more or less fraught with
danger. Remarkable again is the fact that where the female is more
conspicuously marked than the male the latter takes upon himself the
duties of incubation entirely, or renders a great deal of aid, which
is strong proof that dull subdued colours have been adopted for the
preservation of the young in their several stages of helplessness.

=Protective Construction of Nests.=--It is surprising again to find
Darwin, in arguing that few British birds build covered nests to
protect themselves against the conspicuousness of their own colours,
citing the Dipper as an instance of this. But what about the white
breast of this bird, which marks it out at long distances against
the dark rock or water? Again, her pure white eggs are manifestly a
source of danger, more conspicuous even than the bird. It must not be
supposed I overlook another important feature in the covered nest of
this bird, which is, however, subservient to the bird's desire to hide
her white plumage and eggs, which renders it equally preservative in
character. The bird generally builds near a waterfall, often quite
behind, undoubtedly for the safety this situation affords, and she is
not only obliged to construct a covered nest, but one which must keep
out the constant dripping of water percolating through fissures in the
rock. The construction of this nest even cuts off the chance of a stray
splash of water finding its way to the eggs or young during the parent
bird's absence, by the peculiarly ingenious entrance she makes to her
little home.

Still further, where birds are conspicuous in colour they either build
covered nests, or place them in such situations as afford safety, and
are thus equivalent. For instance, the Woodpecker, Kingfisher, and
Magpie, the two former having a double object in the selection of a
situation, firstly their own eminently brilliant colours, and secondly
their pure white eggs. The latter building a covered nest of such
materials as thorns, seems to point to a strategic planning against the
immorality of the family to which he belongs.

=Periods of Incubation and their Utility.=--The Duck family all lay
eggs white, or nearly approaching it, and take the precaution to cover
them carefully on leaving the nest.

Some naturalists have been of opinion that this is to prevent an undue
escape of the heat generated by the parent; however, I am unable to
find any observations to prove that these birds leave their eggs for
feeding purposes longer than any others that hatch their young in
three weeks. Neither does it appear that they transmit heat better or
worse than birds of entirely different habits, for it takes a Fowl
four weeks to hatch a Duck's egg, and a Duck will on the other hand
hatch a Fowl's in the normal time, three weeks. It appears that the
period of incubation is regulated with a great amount of precision by
the contemplated habits of life, the difficulties to be overcome, and
dangers to be endured, as the following facts show:--

A Pigeon hatches its young out in sixteen days, and by a special
process and careful assiduity feeds them until they are almost full
grown. A Fowl, though not capable of feeding her young in the same way,
possesses the power of defending her offspring, finding and selecting
suitable food, and attending to their education generally in a higher
degree than the Duck can bestow on her progeny, which take four weeks
to hatch.

To still further illustrate this wonderful regulating principle,
let us diverge for a moment from the eggs of birds to those of
fish, where we find things adapted with incredible precision to the
surrounding conditions of existence. I have noticed that trout living
and being obliged to deposit their ova in a stream subject to great
variations of temperature, spawn much earlier than trout in a stream
preserving a comparatively even temperature. The condition of the
latter in comparison with the former showed unmistakably that the
difference of food supply did not account for it, and as the fry in
both streams appeared about the same time in the spring, and exhibited
no appreciable difference in size or strength during the summer, the
natural conclusion to be arrived at is that the time required for
hatching in each stream is contemplated and provided against in some
mysterious way.

=Mechanical Construction of Eggs.=--We now come to another phase of the
protective principle, even more remarkable than those we have already
discussed, and equally useful. This is in the mechanical construction
of eggs to suit their situation and surrounding conditions. What an
admirable provision Nature has shown in placing the axis of a bird's
egg just where it will prevent it rolling off a flat surface, such as a
ledge of rock, when moved by the terrible gusts of wind that sweep over
high latitudes, or perhaps roughly moved by the parent bird suddenly
fluttering off when scared.

Take, for example, the egg of the Guillemot. This is so wonderfully
constructed that if moved it will not roll away like a marble or
billiard-ball, but simply spins round on its axis, in the same way
as a screw or top, showing a wonderful adaptability to the exposed
situation chosen by this bird for incubation.

Birds which make round, cup-shaped nests or incubate in holes, such
as the Owl and Kingfisher, for instance, lay round eggs, which run no
risk of rolling away and being smashed. Their shape also facilitates
alteration of position of the parent bird to secure an equal
distribution of warmth and ventilation.

Were the Guillemot and either of the latter birds to change nesting
situations for a while, it is probable a speedy extermination of the
species which adopted the flat rock for the round egg would soon take
place, affording a beautiful illustration of the power that is also
guiding the action of birds under the mysterious name of instinct. It
is an unknown and unknowable power, yet its workings are as undeniable
as its results.

As a further illustration, let us take the eggs of the Golden and Green
Plovers, and consider for a moment their size, shape, number, and

All these qualities serve some well-defined and demonstrably useful
end. Firstly, their size is abnormally large compared with that of the
layer, but this is a provision which supplies the necessary size and
strength of the young bird to enable it to cope with the surrounding
conditions of its first days of self-feeding and locomotion amongst
coarse grass and other obstacles.

Secondly, the shape of the egg serves to economise space, an important
point where the eggs are large and the bird small. Thus the four
pear-shaped eggs, having their small ends all pointing to a common
centre, practically form a square, and thus enable the bird to cover
them all at the same time.

Thirdly, the number of eggs is always four, and by such limitation the
form of the square is preserved, and the difficulty of a small bird
covering a number of large eggs satisfactorily surmounted. I have often
disarranged the order of Plovers' eggs, but always found that the first
thing done by the bird on her return was to reduce chaos to order by
turning the round ends out and the small ones into the centre of her
little household.

Lastly, we come to the beautiful harmony of colouring of the eggs with
surrounding objects, rendering them often very difficult to find, even
by a practised eye, and the scant nest still further aiding in the
chances against discovery.

The Sandpiper affords an admirable instance of the assimilation of its
eggs to surrounding objects, and the extreme difficulty experienced in
finding them attests to its protective utility.

=Why Eggs Vary so much in Point of Number.=--The number of eggs laid by
birds of different orders seems to be regulated by the danger to which
they are exposed and the amount of food which the parents will be able
to supply.

Thus, the Eagle in its inaccessible eyrie enjoys almost perfect
immunity from danger, and has only two young ones, for which, however,
the supply of food is only equal to the demand, and it is probable that
one more voracious appetite would seriously endanger the safety of the
whole family.

On the other hand, take the Common Partridge with its sixteen or twenty
eggs, the high percentage of its dangers, and the generally abundant
supply of food.

Again, the Swift, on its untiring wings for sixteen hours a day,
avoids the majority of dangers which threaten less favoured birds,
and only lays two eggs, in a position very few other birds could
adopt, yet one which secures her little household the amount of safety
necessary for the due survival of the species. However, with her
limited family, dexterity on the wing, and enduring powers, she seems
to have no leisure time during the period her young require feeding.
As an opposite, take the House Sparrow, with its five or six eggs,
innumerable dangers, and easy access to food, and it must be confessed
these things are ordered by a power of infinite wisdom.

=Curious Nesting-Places.=--The general situation and locality in
which each bird's nest is likely to be found are mentioned in
dealing with the bird under its separate heading; however, it may
not be uninteresting to chronicle a few of the most remarkable and
well-authenticated departures from accepted rules.

I have myself found a Dipper's nest on the branch of a tree twelve or
thirteen feet from the water and twenty from the bank. This nest was of
ordinary shape and size, its material being of the same kind as others,
and securely fastened amongst the prongs of the branch like a Missel
Thrush's. When the parent bird was disturbed she dived into the pool
below to make her escape (a habit invariably adopted when nesting in an
ordinary position). She reared her young in safety, however, in spite
of the awkward situation she had selected, and I have every reason to
believe got them off without mishap. I have also found a Thrush's nest
on the ground, precisely in the position a Lark selects.

House Sparrows furnish many examples of curious situations adopted
for incubatory purposes. Not long ago a pair of these birds built
their nest, and successfully hatched a brood, in the cartridge-box
of a cannon which was fired twice daily in the Gun Park at Woolwich.
It is a notable fact that in some parts of the country Sparrows build
extensively in trees, whilst in others such a circumstance is unknown.
Some ornithologists are of opinion that it is an hereditary habit,
others supposing that it is resorted to for the sake of coolness in
hot weather; but a reason I incline to is that in parts of the country
where houses and out-buildings are made of stone the birds find ample
accommodation in joints, crevices, and crannies where the mortar has
been dislodged, and are therefore not driven to the necessity of
adopting trees, like birds found in districts where the houses are made
of bricks, consequently closer, and affording less opportunity for
nest-building. This bird, besides its noted pugnacity, is an arrant
rogue, and invariably takes advantage of the House Martin's labour.
I have known a house with twenty nests all close together under its
eaves, about half of which were occupied by Sparrows, which had, in
some cases where the nests were new, been actually watched ejecting the
eggs of the original owners.

The Robin is noted for its caprice in the selection of a nesting site,
and has been found hatching its eggs in nearly every conceivable
situation, from the ordinary mossy bank to the pocket of a gardener's
old coat which had been hanging undisturbed for several weeks in
a tool-house. Old kettles, water-cans, inverted plant pots, &c.,
in buildings close to machinery in daily motion, and other equally
curious places, are by no means rare occurrences. A case is recorded
of a Robin's nest having been built in the hole made by a cannon-ball
through the mizzen-mast against which Lord Nelson was standing when he
received his death-wound on board the _Victory_.

Swallows have also been known to adopt quite foreign situations for
breeding purposes, such as holes in trees, and even openly on the

Cases are known of the Starling building its nest down holes in the
earth, and also quite exposed in trees, similar to the nest of the
Sparrow. It has also been found going shares with a Magpie.

The Pied Wagtail occasionally chooses strange quarters, one case being
on record of a pair building beneath a railway switch, over which
trains passed nearly every hour in the day within a few inches of the

The roof of a house in Hull was once selected by two pairs of Rooks for
nidification, and proved a successful choice, for they managed to build
nests and rear their young.

The Common Wild Duck is also liable to depart widely from her usual
habit in the selection of a site for her nest, sometimes adopting
a Crow's nest, and even the tower of a church, which latter has
occasioned much speculation amongst naturalists as to how the parent
bird managed to convey her progeny safely to water.

The Fly-catcher is amongst the foremost of our eccentric birds in the
choice of breeding quarters, its nest having been found in street lamps
in different parts of the country, and in one instance on the head of
a hoe hanging against the wall of a tool-house. The nest was removed
whilst the hoe was being used, and, when replaced, the birds, instead
of deserting it, resumed operations, and eventually reared their brood.

Another very interesting curiosity of recent date occurred in the
neighbourhood of Skegness, where a pair of Marsh Titmice selected a
farmer's letter-box for incubation purposes, and although it was opened
twice daily, and the materials with which the birds began to build were
several times cleared away, they doggedly persisted in their efforts,
and eventually succeeded in making a nest and depositing the usual
number of eggs.

One of the strangest cases of all, and I should think the most
remarkable on well-authenticated record, recently occurred near
Colchester, where a pair of Common Wrens built their nest inside the
skeleton of a hooded crow, which had been brought to justice and hung
up as a warning to other winged depredators.

These odd positions and situations are evidently not chosen for
purposes of concealment from man, at any rate; indeed, it is a question
whether some of them are not adopted to secure the advantage his
presence affords against the incursions of predatory birds and animals.
And, on the other hand, if these seeming departures from instinct be
admitted as due to reason, it seems strange that whilst some birds
are capable of this, others exhibit what seems to human understanding
profound stupidity. I have known birds vainly try to build in positions
where it was impossible for a nest to rest, each piece of material
falling to the ground, until sufficient had been collected for a great
many nests; yet the bird kept on collecting sticks, moss, and grasses,
until probably she was obliged to drop her eggs in the fields. This is
not a solitary instance, nor only once attempted, for close observation
proved that the same inexplicably vain effort was continued from
year to year, but whether by the same birds or not it is of course
impossible to say.

Some birds show a remarkable love for the same situation, in which
they nest year after year for an incredible length of time. The same
place is known to have been used by falcons for about a century and a
quarter, and likely to continue if the birds are not molested. Blue
Titmice are known to have selected the same quarters over a hundred
years in unbroken succession.

=On Forming a Collection.=--My concluding remarks will be devoted to
the guidance of such as require to make a collection of eggs.

Keep close watch on the building operations of the birds whose eggs
are required. Dippers, Thrushes, and many others commence early in the
spring, especially after a mild winter.

Take only _one_ specimen, and not until you have reason to believe
the bird has done laying. Never under any circumstances take an egg
when you have ground to suppose incubation has commenced, or is in an
advanced stage, for besides the cruelty of the thing, it will often be
of no use.

The specimen being secured, it is taken for granted the collector is
furnished with the necessary drill and blow-pipe, procurable at any
naturalist's shop. The next proceeding is to drill a small hole exactly
on the side of the egg, selecting that of a spotted one with the least
characteristic marks on it. Then insert the end of the blow-pipe, or
rather direct the current of air sent through it into the hole made,
being careful with small eggs not to burst them, or squeeze them until
they collapse under the pressure of the fingers. When the contents have
been emptied wash the egg out with clean water, introduced through the
blow-pipe, being careful not to wet the outside more than necessary,
or rub it too much, as the beautiful colouring of many eggs is easily
displaced. When the egg has been blown, and properly dried inside and
out, an operation needing some care, the hole should be covered over
with a neat piece of gummed paper, on which the name of the specimen
may be written, this being found especially useful when eggs of
different kinds get mixed.

A small label should also be attached to the compartment allotted to
each egg in the cabinet, bearing the name, locality in which it was
found, and date, as such memoranda are often very useful, and inculcate
habits of systematic study and storage of information sometimes
impossible to remember. Besides this, a very good plan is to keep a
note-book in which to enter such particulars and data concerning each
specimen as may prove of utility or interest in the study of oology.

Of course it is impossible to obtain many specimens, which are seldom
or never found in certain districts, therefore it is necessary to
buy such eggs, or exchange through the medium of advertisement, with
collectors equally glad to avail themselves of such an arrangement.

I have no doubt about the pleasure a study of the subject affords,
and if my little book assists to heighten it in any way I shall be

                                                 R. KEARTON.



This beautiful little bird builds a nest of the first rank in point of
constructive skill and neatness. Though it breeds at a surprisingly
rapid rate, it is a regrettable fact to learn that its numbers are
gradually becoming smaller in this country, and mainly through the
profit its capture affords. Despite being much harassed by the
bird-catching fraternity to supply the demand for it as a cage pet, if
not actually approving of confinement, it seems to prefer the close
proximity of man, often selecting as a nesting situation gardens and
orchards, and has even been known to build in rose-bushes and other
trees trained against a dwelling-house. The nest is composed of moss,
a little hay and wool, lined with seed-down of the willow and hair
neatly woven together. The eggs are four or five in number; white
tinged with blue, and spotted at the larger end with raw sienna.


The Magpie builds her nest on the tops of very tall trees, but it has
sometimes been found in comparatively small bushes. It is large, domed,
and almost spherical in shape, composed of brambles, thorny sticks,
clay, and finer sticks, and lined inside with dead grass and fibrous
roots; it has a hole on the side. She lays six or seven eggs of a dirty
light blue, spotted with yellowish-brown all over.


This bird lays four or five eggs of a pale blue colour, spotted and
streaked with raw sienna, brown, or purple. The nest is made of twigs
and fibrous roots, and lined with horsehair; it is situated in thick
garden and other hedges. The female sits very close, so that she may
even be touched without leaving the nest.


The Starling makes her nest of hay, straw, and fibrous roots; her
favourite haunts are the gable-ends of old houses, cliffs, and hollow
trees. She lays four or five eggs of a beautiful light blue, tinged
with green. If she is left undisturbed, she will use the same nest
for several years, with a little repairing each spring. She is very
affectionate to her young, and works in hearty co-operation with her
mate to procure them food, which is an enormous quantity in the course
of a day.


The Chaffinch generally builds her nest in the forks of trees covered
with lichens; it is made of moss, wool, and lichen, the inside being
lined with hair and feathers. She makes a beautiful nest, small but
deep, and it harmonizes so much with its situation that it is often
difficult to find. She lays four or five eggs of a grayish-blue,
spotted and streaked with a dirty purple-red. She sits very close,
in fact I once knew a bird remain on her nest till a mischievous boy
caught her by the tail, pulling it out as she rose to fly; and she
returned and reared her young after that.


The Raven lays five or six eggs of a gray-green ground colour, spotted
and blotched with a darker greenish or smoky brown. She builds her
nest in high, inaccessible rocks and cliffs, either on the sea-shore
or inland, and it is sometimes found on the tops of lofty trees. It is
composed of sticks of various sizes and kinds, wool, and hair.


This little bird lays from four to six eggs of a whitish faint blue
tinge, speckled with purple-red, and her nest is composed of moss,
bent fibrous roots, and wool, lined inside with hair and feathers. She
builds in whitethorn, blackthorn, and furze-bushes; very rarely in


The Rook lays four or five eggs of a pale green colour, spotted
and blotched with greenish or smoky brown. She makes her nest of
sticks, straw, hay, &c., and is rather particular about it, pulling
it to pieces and rebuilding it several times. Tall trees are usually
selected, generally near to some mansion or village, where the rooks
form a colony. This bird lays very early, and has been known to
commence sitting even in November.


This little bird lays four to eight eggs of a yellowish-white tinge,
spotted at the larger end with a kind of brownish-red. It builds
several supplementary nests, which are simply made of moss and lichen;
this is attributed to the male bird by some naturalists; but however
this may be, as a rule two of these nests will be found to one of the
others lined with feathers, which is intended for incubation. The nest
is built in old barns, on the sides of cliffs, and in the roots of
trees growing from high banks; it is dome-shaped, and has a very small


The Jay lays five or six eggs of a pale greenish-blue, sometimes
yellowish-white, thickly spotted with minute brown spots, generally
confluent on the larger end, where there are several irregular black
lines. She builds her nest in the thickest parts of woods, where it
may be well out of sight. It is composed of sticks, small twigs, small
fibrous roots, and grass.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Jay. 2. Sparrow. 3. Jackdaw. 4. Grouse. 5. Kestrel.
  6. Robin.  7. Redpoll. 8. Ringdove. 9. Wryneck.


This familiar little bird builds her nest in the walls of old stone
houses, at the back of spouting, and amongst ivy. It is particularly
fond of ejecting the Martin from her carefully-built home, and has been
even known to turn out the eggs of this little harmless bird. She lays
five or six eggs, of a dirty white, covered with black or dark brown


The Jackdaw builds her nest in towers of churches, the ruins of old
castles and abbeys, rocks, hollow trees, and chalk pits. It is made of
sticks, straw, and hay, with an inner lining of large feathers, hair,
and wool. The eggs, numbering from three to six, are a pale green-blue,
spotted with dingy brown; the spots are confluent at the larger or
thicker end.


The Grouse lays on an average about nine eggs; as many as fifteen have
been found, but this number has been by some attributed to two birds,
as they will sometimes build (if we may term it such) within a yard of
each other. Their nests merely consist of a little hollow scratched
out, and lined with heather or bent. The eggs are of a dirty white
colour, covered with umber-brown spots. Both the old birds are very
cunning in trying to decoy the intruder away from the whereabouts of
the nest, feigning lameness or injury.


The Kestrel lays four to seven eggs of a dirty white, sometimes with
a bluish tinge, thickly covered with reddish-brown blotches. She
generally makes no nest at all, but scratches a hollow in the soft
earth on a ledge of rock situated on high mountain or sea-cliffs. The
deserted nest of the crow is sometimes utilised.


This beautiful little bird, the favourite of English children, builds
her nest in walls and banks, where roots and moss abound. It is
composed of moss, fibrous roots, and leaves, and is sometimes lined
with hair. She lays five or six eggs of a very light gray, spotted with
a dull light red; sometimes these spots are very few.


The eggs of this bird are four or five in number, of a very pale
blue-green colour, spotted about the larger end with orange-red. The
eggs retain much of their pretty colour after being blown, they are of
such a beautiful blue. She makes her nest of hay and moss, lined inside
with willow-down, and finishes it off in the most beautiful manner.
She builds her nest in willows, alders, and other bushes that fringe
streams and ponds in mountainous districts.


The Ringdove makes a very loose, slovenly nest of twigs and sticks, and
it is sometimes so badly built that the eggs may be seen through the
bottom of the nest. She builds in fir, yew, or other trees, sometimes
in ivy that grows upon rocks and trees, very near the ground. She lays
two white eggs of a rounded oval shape.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Golden-crested Wren.  2. Whitethroat.  3. Siskin.  4. Thrush.
  5. Greenfinch.  6. Redstart.  7. Great Tit.  8. Teal.  9. Blackbird.


The eggs of this bird are from five to eight in number, of a pure
white. She makes her nest in holes in the trunks of trees. It is made
of dry, rotten wood, which is ground down to a kind of powder, and it
has been found lined with moss and feathers.


This little bird, like the others of its tribe, lays a considerable
number of eggs for its small size. They are eight or nine in number,
thickly spotted with reddish-brown, these spots being confluent at the
larger end. The underground colour is a faint fleshy tint. Her nest is
made of moss and lichens, and is lined with willow-down and feathers.
The outside of the nest generally harmonises with its situation, which
is amongst the branches of a tree, generally of the fir, from a branch
of which the nest is usually suspended.


The Whitethroat lays four or five eggs of a greenish-white colour,
spotted with brown and gray, the spots sometimes form a zone or belt
round the larger end. Her nest is made of dead grass and a little hair,
loosely attached, the nest being carelessly made. It is situated in low
thick herbage, or amongst nettles, or other ground weeds.


This bird lays four or five eggs of a bluish ground colour, some
being spotted all over with cloudy rusty spots, others with these
spots well-defined about the larger end. Her nest is made of green
moss, small twigs, dried grass, and sometimes lined with feathers and
rabbits'-down. The nest is rarely found in Britain; its usual situation
is amongst furze-bushes.


The Thrush builds her nest in hedges, banks, against the trunks of
trees, in stone walls, and is fond of ivy against trees or rocks. Her
nest is made of grass and moss, the interior being lined with clay or
cow-dung, in which are sometimes found pieces of decayed wood. She lays
from four to six eggs, of a beautiful blue spotted with black, most of
the spots being on the thick end of the egg.


This bird lays four or five eggs, which are white tinged with blue,
and speckled at the larger end with light orange-brown. Her nest is
situated in thick hedges, ivy, holly, and other evergreens. It is
composed of moss and wool, and is lined with hair and feathers. The
nests of these birds have been found so close that the material of two
was interwoven together.


The nest of this bird is made of moss lined with hair and feathers.
It is situated in holes in rocks, walls, trees, stables, and barns;
and the bird has been known to build in a plant pot with the bottom
upwards, entering through the hole. She lays from five to seven eggs,
of a pale bluish-green, unspotted.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Nuthatch.  2. Sea Gull.  3. Woodpecker.  4. Kingfisher  5. Moorhen.
  6. Nightingale.  7. Lapwing.  8. Barn Owl.  9. Crossbill.


The Blackbird builds her nest in stone walls, holly bushes, hedges, and
amongst ivy. It is made with small twigs, roots, and cow-dung or clay
intermixed, and lined inside with very fine slender grass. She has been
known to try to build on the side of a cliff, where the sticks, &c.,
would not remain, but have fallen down until there was enough to make
half-a-dozen nests, yet the bird continued to bring fresh material. She
lays four, five, and rarely six eggs of a dull bluish-green, spotted
all over with brown blotches.


The eggs of this bird are from six to twelve in number; their colour
is white, spotted with a reddish-brown. The nest is composed of moss,
feathers, and hair, and is situated in holes in walls and trees. The
bird has been known to make these holes herself in the trunk of a tree,
working with great diligence and rapidity until she had finished.


The Teal builds its nest where rushes are abundant, chiefly on marshes
in Scotland and the north of England. The nest is composed of large
quantities of dried sedges, flags, and other water plants, and is lined
with feathers. The bird lays eight or ten eggs, which are buffish or
creamy-white, sometimes faintly tinged with green.


This bird lays from five to seven eggs in number, of a pure white
spotted with red-brown. They are very often mistaken for the eggs of
the Great Titmouse. The nest is made of the dried leaves of the oak,
apple, elm, &c., carelessly arranged. It is situated in a hole of a
decaying tree, and if too large at the entrance the bird plasters it up
until she can just get in and out comfortably.


This bird lays two, and sometimes three eggs, of a pale green
or a yellowish-white colour, irregularly blotched with gray and
blackish-brown. Her nest is made of seaweed, dry grass, &c., and is
found on sea-cliffs and bold rocky headlands, such as St. Abb's Head in


The eggs of this bird are three or four in number, of a very light
bluish-tinged white colour. Her nest is made entirely of the pieces of
wood chipped off by the bird in her boring operations. It is placed
in the trunk of a tree, frequently in a hole which the bird herself
has previously excavated, and perhaps used before. She seems to have a
particular liking for the aspen and black poplar tree.


This bird lays six or seven eggs, nearly round, white and shining.
When fresh and unblown, the yolk shows through the shell, and gives it
a beautiful pink colour, something similar to the Dipper's, but more
clear and vivid. The nest is composed of the bones of fishes, and is
generally in the Sandmartin's previous excavations, about three or four
feet above the usual surface of the water.


The eggs of this familiar and semi-domestic bird are from eight to ten
in number, of a pale brownish-grey, spotted with umber-brown. This
bird, like the duck, when leaving the nest covers her eggs with flags
and reeds, of which also the nest is made. She builds among the sedges
on the banks of streams and ponds, and sometimes in trees. Nests have
often been found in willow-branches which touch and float upon the


The eggs of this bird are from four to six in number, and are usually
of a yellowish olive-brown colour, unspotted, but are occasionally
found blue. Her nest is made of dried leaves, lined inside with
fine grass. It is situated on the ground in woods and shrubberies,
especially on the little banks at the foot of trees, under the shelter
of ferns or weeds.


The Lapwing, or Green Plover, makes a very simple nest, only scratching
a hole and lining it with bent or short grass. She generally makes it
on a little knoll, so that it may be out of danger of being deluged,
as her home is generally in swampy marshy land. She lays four eggs of
a dirty-green ground, blotched all over with dark brown spots, and the
colour harmonises so well with the ground, that it is sometimes very
difficult for the collector to see them even when looking close to
where they are.


The Barn Owl lays two eggs at a time, that is, lays two and hatches
them, and lays again, even to a second and third time, before the
first have flown. They are white and unspotted. She makes a very slight
nest of sticks, hay, and sometimes of her own cast-off feathers.
She selects barns, old ruins, hollow trees, and crevices of rocks,
overshadowed by ivy or creeping plants.


This bird lays four or five eggs of a white colour, tinged with pale
blue, resembling the colour of skim-milk, and speckled with red, but
only very sparingly. Her nest is made of twigs, grass, and sometimes
lined with a few long hairs. She builds mostly among the branches of
the Scotch fir, the nest being generally close to the boll or stem.


Unlike its congener, the Skylark, this bird is limited to certain
localities in our islands. Whilst it is fairly abundant in some
districts, it is seldom or never seen in others. It is highly esteemed
as a song-bird, and consequently suffers at the hands of professional
bird-catchers, especially as its young begin to carol at an early
period of their existence. Its nest is situated on the ground, usually
well concealed beneath a tuft of grass or low plant, and is composed
of grass, bents, moss, and hairs, the coarser material used on the
outside and the finer to line the interior. The eggs are four or five
in number, of a lighter ground colour than the Skylark's eggs, thickly
speckled with reddish-brown, the spots sometimes, but rarely, forming a
zone at the larger end.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Woodlark.  2. Nightjar.  3. Stormy Petrel.  4. Stone-chat.
  5. Capercailzie.  6. Bittern.  7. Merlin.  8. Little Grebe.
  9. Wheat-ear.


Like some other of the Hawks, the Merlin does not take much trouble in
the construction of her nest, simply selecting a little hollow, usually
well hidden by heather, in moorland districts, lining it with dead
ling and a little grass. The eggs number from three to six, according
to some authorities; but I have usually found four on the North Riding
moors, brown in colour, thickly covered with spots, blotches, and
marblings of a reddish hue, especially at the larger end.


The ground is chosen as the situation of this bird's nest, well hidden
amongst the dense growth of reeds and flags, in close proximity to the
water it haunts. It is composed of a plenteous supply of sticks, reeds,
flag-leaves, &c. The eggs are found in numbers of from three to five,
and have been described as of a pale clay-brown, stone colour, and
olive-brown, all of which are as near the mark as a verbal description
can come.


This bird cannot really be said to make a nest of any kind, simply
selecting some natural depression in the earth, beneath the shelter
of a furze-bush or common bracken. She lays two eggs, which are grey,
beautifully spotted, and marbled or veined with dark brown and tints
of a bluish-lead colour, glossy. The female sits so closely, and
harmonises so well with her surroundings, that, unless one happens
to detect her beautiful large eye, the chances are very much against
finding her nest.


The Scilly Islands, St. Kilda, the Orkneys, Shetland, and the Irish
coast, are the breeding haunts of the Storm Petrel. The nest is placed
on the ground, amongst cliffs and under large-sized stones, being
composed of pieces of dry earth and stalks of plants. One single white
egg, about the size of a Blackbird's, is laid.


This pert little bird is very dexterous in the art of nest-building,
selecting for materials moss and dry grasses to form the outer
structure, and feathers, hair, &c., for lining the interior. The
position selected is generally on the ground, at the bottom of a
furze-bush, though sometimes quite away from any bush. The eggs number
five or six, and are of a pale blue-green, with minute reddish-brown
spots, chiefly at the larger end.


A sheltered and darkened situation is generally chosen by the
Wheat-ear wherein to build her nest--chinks of stone walls, the ruins
of cairns, in old rabbit-burrows, under stones on moors, mountain
wilds, &c. The nest, not very artistic in construction, is composed
of a variety of materials, such as bents, grass roots pulled up by
the sheep when grazing, and dried in the sun, hair and wool gathered
from brambles, corners of rocks, and walls against which the sheep
have rubbed themselves. The eggs number five or six, and are of a pale
greenish-blue colour unspotted.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Pied Fly-catcher.  2. Meadow Pipit.  3. Tree Pipit.  4. Dunlin.
  5. Landrail.  6. Skua.  7. Wigeon.  8. Golden Plover.  9. Skylark.


An immense mass of aquatic weeds floating on the surface of a quiet
pond, and thoroughly saturated with water, forms the nest of this bird.
She lays from five to six eggs, at first white, but gradually becoming
dyed a dirty mud colour by the decaying weeds with which the parent
bird covers them on leaving her nest to seek food, &c.


This bird's nest is situated on the ground, and is composed of a few
sticks and ling stalks. The eggs number from six to twelve, and are of
a pale reddish-yellow brown, spotted all over with two shades of darker
orange-brown, somewhat like those of the Black Grouse.


The nest of this common little bird is built of bents, with an inner
lining of grass and hairs. It is situated on the ground, and generally
in such a position that protection from the rain, sheep's feet, &c.,
is afforded by a stout tuft of bents, a projecting piece of earth or
stone. Its whereabouts is, however, generally betrayed by the parent
bird's peculiar flight when disturbed, even in the earliest stages
of incubation. In the course of a day's travel on the moors I have
met with several nests, some of them remarkably close to each other.
The eggs number from four to six; and in spite of the fact that some
eminent authorities have said that they are of a reddish-brown, mottled
over with darker brown, varying but little, I should describe them as
varying from light to very dark dusky brown. I should conclude, from
long observation, that more Cuckoos are bred and reared by this bird
than all the other foster-parents put together; and it is remarkable
what affection it shows for the adopted nursling. Not long ago I had
the misfortune to shoot a young Cuckoo during the dusk of evening in
mistake for a Hawk, and was struck with pity on seeing the poor Meadow
Pipit light on the dead body of the unfortunate victim, and try to drag
it away as I approached.


This bird seems to resort annually to the same locality, and use the
same nest year after year, which is composed of moss, grass, bents,
feathers, hair, &c., and is situated in holes in pollard-trees and
walls. She lays four or five eggs, of a pale blue, which might not
erroneously be described as greenish-blue, unspotted.


The Tree Pipit's nest is always on the ground, beneath the shelter of
a tuft of grass or low bush, and is made of fibrous roots, moss, and
wool, lined with fine grass and hair. The eggs number from four to six,
and are so variable in colour that verbal description is almost baffled
in attempting to convey an impression of what they are like. Some are
purple-red, thickly sprinkled with spots of a deeper shade; others of
a yellowish-white, spotted and sprinkled all over with greyish-brown,
like a Sparrow's egg.


The nesting-place of the Dunlin is on the sea-beach, among the shingle,
heather, or long grass at the mouth of rivers, on moors and fells in
the North of England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, the Orkney Islands,
and the Hebrides. The nest is composed of a meagre supply of bents and
straws, and the eggs number four, elegantly shaped and beautifully
coloured, though very variable in ground colour, sometimes of a
bluish-white, blotched all over with umber-brown, whilst others are
of a clear light green, richly spotted with light brown. The hen sits


This familiar songster's nest is placed on the ground, amongst corn or
rough tufty grass, and its whereabouts is generally betrayed by the
peculiar scudding flight of the hen when disturbed. The nest is built
of bents and dry grass, those of the most slender texture being placed
inside. The eggs number four or five (I have never found more), the
colouring of which is subject to variation, and not of the easiest kind
to convey in a written description. However, the following may be taken
as representative:--A dirty white ground colour slightly tinged with
green, spotted and mottled with umber-brown, generally more thickly
towards the larger end.


The favourite nesting-place of the Golden Plover is on the dreary
mountain wilds of the North of England, Scotland, and Ireland. She
selects a slight natural depression in the earth, and scrapes together
bits of dead grass, rushes, and heather for a nest, in which four eggs
are deposited, with the sharp points all meeting in the centre. The
ground colour of the eggs is stone or cream, spotted and blotched with
umber or blackish-brown, of various sizes and shapes.


The position selected by the Landrail for her nest is on the ground,
amongst grass, underwood, clover, or corn. It is loosely constructed
of dry herbage. Her eggs vary greatly in number, from seven, eight, or
nine to as many as fifteen, and are of a dingy white, suffused with a
reddish tinge, freckled and spotted with red, brown, and purplish-grey.


This bird has been known to breed in Scotland and Ireland, but its
favourite places are Scandinavia, Finland, and Northern Russia. The
nest is placed in a clump of rushes or a tuft of heather, its materials
being reeds and decayed rushes, with a beautiful inner lining of down
off the parent bird, which lays from seven to ten creamy-white eggs, of
a very oval shape. Broods have been hatched at different times in the
Zoological Gardens.


Nidification is carried on by the Skua in companies, in the Shetland
Islands only. The nest is placed on the ground, and is made of dead
ling, moss, and dry grass, in which are deposited two eggs only, of
varying colour. Some are of a dark olive-brown, whilst others are of a
greener tint, with black-brown spots, intermixed with small speckles of
a whitish or rusty colour.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Sand Martin.  2. Little Stint.  3. Long-eared Owl.  4. Kite.
  5. Lesser Whitethroat.  6. Redwing.  7. Shieldrake.  8. Sandpiper.
  9. Red-shank.


This bird locates its nest in a strong fork of some tall tree,
building it with sticks and whatever softer material she can come at
without much trouble, such as wool, &c. The eggs number three, and
are of a grey or dirty white, spotted and blotched with dull red or
orange-brown, the spots predominating at the larger end.


The nest of the Red-shank is situated amidst a tuft of grass, or in a
small hole sheltered by the surrounding herbage, and is constructed of
a few blades of fine dry grass lightly put together. She lays four eggs
of a cream or straw colour, blotched and speckled with dark brown, the
spots being very variable, but generally forming a belt or zone at the
larger end.


As denoted by the name, the nesting-place of the Sand-martin is at the
extremity of a deep hole, which the bird excavates for herself in some
sandbank, generally near a river. The nest is constructed of straw,
hay, or dead rushes, whichever may be found in the locality where the
bird is breeding, and lined with feathers. The eggs are from four to
six in number, of an elongated shape, the extreme thinness of the shell
giving them a pinky appearance, but when blown they are a beautiful


This bird does not breed in the British Isles, but in Northern Europe
and Asia. The nest is situated on the ground, and is very similar in
construction to that of most of the Sandpiper species, being a natural
depression in the ground, with a lining of dead leaves, or other such
material as may be procured within easy reach of the place chosen. The
eggs are four in number, of varying ground colour, from pale brown to
pale greenish-grey, spotted and blotched with rich brown, the spots
generally confluent at the larger end; but the colour is probably
subject to as many variations as the Dunlin's eggs, already described.


Like the Hawk tribe generally, this bird manifests an unmistakable
dislike for maternal labour, as she contents herself with the old nest
of a Crow, Magpie, or the abandoned home of a Squirrel. Some collectors
give the number of eggs as from three to seven; but four or five is the
general rule, and numbers above the last figure quoted the exception.
The eggs are white, and almost as blunt at one end as the other.


The labours of the Rabbit are utilised by the Shieldrake, and almost
indispensable to her for incubation purposes, as she deposits dried
flags, bents, reeds, and a liberal quantity of down, plucked from her
own body, at the bottom of a deep burrow, after having enlarged and
improved it to suit her purpose. She lays from eight even to twice that
number of eggs, of a very smooth, roundish, oblong shape. They are
cream colour, or nearly white in colour.


This bird very rarely builds in the British Isles, but abundantly in
Norway, Sweden, and other high latitudes visited by it during the
summer. Its nest is very similar to that of the ordinary Ring Ouzel
or Blackbird, and is located in the middle of a dense bush. The eggs
number from four to six, and are somewhat like those of the Fieldfare,
only not so large. It would take a very clever connoisseur to pick out
the egg of the Blackbird, Ring Ouzel, Fieldfare, and Redwing from some
specimens without making a mistake, so much alike are they in colour,
size, and shape.


On the banks of a river, lake, or tarn, this familiar little bird
locates its nest, generally choosing some natural depression, where
it will be protected by a projecting grass tuft, though I have found
its nest on the bare ground, and once on a tiny piece of grass amongst
a lot of rocks. The nest is lined with dead rushes, leaves, and fine
grass. The eggs number four, of a creamy yellow or stone colour, with
light brown spots and blotches, as it were, in the shell, and dark
brown on the surface.


The situation chosen by the Lesser Whitethroat for its nest is amongst
brambles, low bushes, and nettles, building it of grass, bents, and
an inner lining of horsehairs. The eggs number four or five, and are
white, with a greenish tendency, spotted, chiefly at the larger end,
with ash and light umber-brown.


This bird, like the Snipe and Red-shank, makes her nest in wet, swampy
places, using only the coarse grass found on the spot. Like its
congeners, it only lays four eggs, very similar in ground colour and
marking to the two birds quoted above, varying from stone colour to
olive-green, blotched and speckled with rich brown and liver-coloured


The high, inaccessible cliffs of Scotland and Ireland are the places
where this noble bird propagates its race. Sticks, heather, grass,
and wool are the nesting materials used. The eggs are two in number,
usually of an unspotted white as representative, but sometimes slightly
marked with pale red--this, however, being the exception.


The breeding haunts of this bird seem to be as far north as it can
possibly carry out incubation successfully; Greenland, Northern
Siberia, and Melville Island being chosen. A natural depression in the
peat earth serves as a nest, in which four eggs are usually laid, of a
stony colour, tinged with olive-green, speckled and spotted (especially
at the larger end) with dark brown.


This duck breeds in Norfolk, the Fen districts, and Scotland, once
numerously, but now more rarely. The nest is made in marshes as far
removed from human intrusion as possible, and is constructed of sedges,
reeds, &c.; and as the time of hatching approaches, the eggs are
covered with down from the bird's own body. They number from eight to
twelve, and are white, tinged with green.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Tawny Owl.  2. Grey Phalarope.  3. Golden Eagle.
  4. White-tailed Eagle.  5. Eider Duck.  6. Herring Gull.
  7. Shoveller.  8. Ruff.  9. Grasshopper Warbler.


The nest of this shy little summer visitor is usually well concealed
near the ground, in the middle of a thick bush. It is constructed
of strong dry grass and moss outside, with an inner lining of
slender grass. The eggs number from four to seven, and are of a
pale rosy-coloured white, with spots and speckles all over of a
darker-shaded red.


The mate of this king of birds builds her nest in the most desolate and
unapproachable parts of Scotland and Ireland, where even the skillful
and daring cragsman can with difficulty come. The eyrie is made of
sticks, a supply being added each year until an enormous pile is
collected, almost flat at the top. The eggs number from two to three,
and are of a grey or dingy white colour, clouded and blotched nearly
all over with rusty or reddish-brown spots.


This useful member of the Duck family breeds on the Scottish coast and
at the Farne Islands, and on the shores of Norway and Sweden, in great
numbers. The nest is made of dried grasses, weeds, &c.; and as the
process of incubation advances, like the Shoveller, the mother lines
the nest profusely with the beautiful down from its body. The eggs
usually number five, and are of a light green colour, oblong in shape.


A hollow in a tree, or the deserted nest of a Crow, serves this
nocturnal bird for a nest. The eggs are of an elliptical shape,
numbering from three to five, and are quite white.


Sea cliffs and rocky islands round the coasts of England, Wales,
Scotland, and Ireland, are the nesting-places of this bird, the
materials used being dried grass and ferns, loosely put together.
The eggs are three in number, of a stone colour, sometimes light
olive-brown--but this rarely--spotted with dark brown.


This bold predatory bird is like the Raven, monogamous, and sticks
to its mate for life. They use the same nest often year after year,
driving their young forth as soon as they are capable of looking after
themselves. On an average four or five eggs are laid, of a grey-green
colour, blotched and spotted with a smoky brown. In some instances,
like those of the Rook, they are found quite blue, minus spots. The
nest is situated at the tops of trees in woods or plantations, and is
composed of sticks like those of most birds, using the larger for the
outside, the smaller for the inside, which is plastered with mud, clay,
or cow-dung, lined with wool, horse and cow hair.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Carrion Crow.  2. Swallow.  3. Sparrow-Hawk.  4. Blue Tit.
  5. Blackcap.  6. Partridge.  7. Wild Duck.  8. Cuckoo.  9. Pheasant.


I have observed that the Swallow's favourite nesting-place is amongst
the rafters of cow-barns, stables, and out-houses of a similar
nature. Nests may be found even in old chimneys, but it is my opinion
that they only locate themselves in such a smoky atmosphere when no
better place is procurable; they have also been found amongst the
brickwork of disused limekilns. The nest is composed of clay or mud
mixed with straw, hay, and rushes, lined with soft light feathers,
usually gathered whilst the bird is on the wing. When a boy, I have
amused myself for hours flying feathers for the dexterous Swallows and
Martins to carry off to their nests, and have always observed that if
the Swallow let a feather fall from her nest whilst building it, and
did not catch it before reaching the ground, she allowed it to remain
there, often to betray the locality of her eggs. The Swallow does not
exhibit the same amount of care over the formation of her nest as
the Common Martin or Sand Martin, and leaves it open at the top. She
lays four or five eggs, white, which are unlike those of the other
species of the family, inasmuch as they are speckled with brown, which
generally forms a belt round the larger end of the egg.


The Sparrow-Hawk lays from four to six eggs of a bluish-white, spotted
more numerously at the larger end with red-brown blotches. It is
said to often utilise the disused nest of the Magpie or Crow, but I
am inclined to the opinion that this is not often the case, as the
half-score or so of nests which have come under my personal observation
have in every instance been built by the Sparrow-Hawk herself.


Blue Tits lay from seven to nine eggs, of a white underground, spotted
with red-brown all over, but more numerously at the larger end. Their
nests are composed of moss, feathers, and hair, and will generally be
found in holes in trees or walls.


The Blackcap locates her nest amongst nettles and brambles, generally
near the ground, but not resting upon it. It is a very slovenly bird,
as far as the structure of its nest goes, which is composed of fibrous
roots and the stems of cleavers. It lays four or five eggs of a whitish
underground, blotched and spotted, with two shades of brown or pale
delicate pink, with dark red spots and blotches.


From ten to twenty eggs are laid by the Partridge, of a pale
yellow-brown, without any spots. There has been some diversity of
opinion as to the time of hatching, some holding that the third week of
June is the time, whilst others say the middle of the following month;
but I think that the locality in which the bird is found has something
to do with this difference of time. She does not make any nest worth
speaking about, merely scratching and trampling the grass, weeds, &c.,
down. Her nest is situated on the ground in standing grass, cornfields,
among brackens, weeds, &c., mostly in arable districts She sits very
closely, indeed so closely that I have known her head cut clean off as
she sat on her nest in a field of grass which was being mown.


The nest of the Wild Duck is composed of grass, intermixed and lined
with down, and is generally situated on the ground near the margin of
rivers or lakes, to enable the mother to lead her progeny to the water
immediately they are hatched. However, there are numerous exceptions
to the usual site of her nest, as it is occasionally found occupying
deserted Crows' nests, or built on pollard willows, and has even been
found in such an exceptionally odd situation as a church tower, from
whence she managed to convey her young in safety. These elevated
nesting-places have given rise to much variance of opinion amongst
naturalists as to how the parent bird carries her progeny to the water;
some contending that she conveys them in her feet, others, in her beak,

This habit of the bird, however, is quite familiar to the Laplanders,
who prepare wooden cylinders, which they stop at each end, leaving a
hole in the side, and elevate on poles, to entice the duck, which does
not hesitate to avail itself of such convenient accommodation; thus the
wily Laplander is enriched with a good store of eggs for breakfast. The
Hawk-Owl often takes a fancy to the situation, and appropriates it for
nidification purposes, paying dearly for his intrusion when the owner
of the cylinder comes round to collect his dues.

The eggs of the Wild Duck number from eight to fifteen, of a
greenish-white colour, smooth on the surface.


The Cuckoo seems to think he was born to do nothing else but tell and

                     "His name to all the hills;"

for he neither makes a nest nor troubles to rear his young, but leaves
them to the tender mercies of unpaid nurses, being partial to the
Wagtail, Hedge-sparrow, and Meadow Pipit, who are so affectionate that
they have been known to follow and feed the young Cuckoo in a cage.
Only one egg is found in a nest, which is of a reddish-grey, with a
darker belt formed of numerous confluent spots at the thick end of the
egg, but they are very variable.


Pheasants lay from eight to thirteen eggs of a pale olive-green or
brown, without spots. Their nests are composed chiefly of the dried
grass where it is situated, which is on the ground amongst weeds,
coarse grass, or scrub, in the outskirts of woods. It has, however,
been found occupying a Squirrel's drey in a Scotch fir, where she
hatched her young, but did not rear them, as from some cause or other
they died in the nest. This bird is polygamous.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Pied Wagtail.  2. Heron.  3. Woodcock.  4. Swift.
  5. Black-headed Gull.  6. Snipe.  7. Chiff-Chaff.  8. Martin.
  9. Hedge-Sparrow.


The nest of this bird is situated in holes in stone walls, bridges,
crevices of rocks, quarries, &c. I remember on one occasion finding
one in the stump of a rotten tree which had broken off about eleven
feet from the ground; they are also found in pollard willows. The nest
is chiefly composed of moss, small fine grass, fibrous roots, wool,
horse and cow-hair. The eggs number from four to six, and are of a grey
colour, speckled with light umber-brown.


The Heron lays four or five eggs of a pale blue, with a tinge of green.
Her nest is composed of a very liberal collection of sticks, and is
lined in the interior with wool, and occasionally rags. It is situated
on the tops of high trees. Like the Rooks, Herons build in societies,
which are called heronries.


The Woodcock lays four eggs of a yellow-white colour, blotched with
pale chestnut-brown. Her nest is generally found amongst the underwood
at the foot of a tree, where she does not appear to try to avoid its
being seen, but scratches a slight hollow, lining it with dead leaves
and the withered fronds of the bracken. Although the great bulk of
these birds are migrants, it is now proved beyond doubt that many are
bred yearly in this country. Like the Partridge, Grouse, &c., the young
leave the nest as soon as hatched, and are most carefully looked after
by the parent bird.


The Swift is the garret-lodger of nature, for she builds her nest in
the very highest crevices and holes in steeples, towers, chimneys,
rocks, and occasionally, like the Martin, under the eaves of inhabited
houses. Her nest is composed of hay, straw, and feathers, in somewhat
sparse quantities, which she appears to solder or cement to the stone
and to each other with a glutinous substance elaborated by glands
peculiar to certain birds of this genus. She lays two or three white
unspotted eggs of a rather long oval shape.


This bird generally lays three eggs, four being occasionally found,
of a pale olive-green or pale umber-brown, blotched with black-brown
or dark grey; however, they are very variable in ground colour,
sometimes being of a bluish-white, unspotted. The nest is loosely
built of the tops of sedges, reeds, or rushes, and is placed about a
foot or more above the surface of the water or swamp. She is fond of
low marshy districts, such as Norfolk, Kent, Essex, and some parts of
Lincolnshire, and I have frequently found her round the edges of high
mountain tarns in the Pennine range.


The Snipe generally lays four eggs, rather large for her size, of a
grey colour, tinged with yellow or olive-green, and blotched with umber
or rusty brown, of two shades, more thickly towards the larger end.
The eggs are sharply pointed, and invariably placed with the small
ends together in the middle. Her nest is placed in a slight depression
in the earth, which she lines with withered grass, rushes, or dried
heather. It is situated in long grass, rushes, or amongst heather, near
to tarns, swamps, bogs, and other places suitable to the habitat of the


This bird lays five, six, or seven eggs of white ground, dotted with
brown or blackish-purple spots, predominating at the larger end; the
shell is very delicate, and must be carefully handled. Her nest is
built of dead grass, the skeletons of leaves, thin pieces of bark and
moss, lined profusely inside with wool, feathers, and hair. It is
situated amongst furzes, brambles, in hedge-banks near the ground,
occasionally amongst long grass on the ground, and is spherical in
shape, with an opening at the side.


The Martin seems particularly fond of attaching her nest to the
habitations of man. I have counted eighteen nests in as many feet under
the eaves of one house. She builds under eaves, angles of windows,
arches of bridges, troughs of cow-barns, rocks, sea-cliffs, &c. Her
nest is composed of clay and mud, particularly that found on roads
covered with limestone, as it possesses great adhesive qualities
when dry. If the weather is dull it takes her some time to build
her nest, but if it is dry and fine she runs it up quickly, working
most dexterously at it early in the morning. She lines it internally
with straw, hay, and feathers, and returns to the same nesting-place
year after year, sometimes to find her cosy little nest occupied by
sparrows. She lays four or five eggs, white, the yolk giving them a
slight pinky tinge, unspotted.


The Hedge-sparrow's favourite nesting-place is in hawthorn hedges, the
nest is also found in furze-bushes, low shrubs, laurels, &c., and is
composed of straw, dried grass, moss, and wool, lined with hair. The
eggs are four or five in number, of a beautiful greenish-blue.


The Dipper, or Water Ouzel as it is called in some districts, builds
her nest in such splendid harmony with its surroundings that it is very
difficult to find. It is generally placed near to some waterfall, and
very often behind it, so that the bird has to fly through the water on
entering and leaving her nest. It is also found in caves, underneath
the arches of bridges, and I have even found one in a tree. The
exterior is composed of aquatic mosses, and the interior beautifully
lined with dry leaves. Dippers' nests are generally of large size,
almost globular in form, with a central hole for the entrance and exit
of the bird. She lays from four to six eggs, the average being five, of
a delicate semi-transparent white, unspotted.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Dipper.  2. Garden Warbler.  3. Missel Thrush.  4. Spoonbill.
  5. Ptarmigan.  6. Peregrine Falcon.  7. Curlew.  8. Hooded Crow.
  9. Coot.


The Garden Warbler's nest is located a few feet from the ground, in
the branches of a thorn or bramble-bush, and coarse grasses, which are
densely matted. It is made of straws, dried grass, fibrous roots, wool,
and horsehair, and is rather loose and slovenly. Her eggs number four
or five, of a pale yellowish stone-grey, blotched and spotted with
ash-grey and purplish-brown.


This bird, known in many parts of the country as the Misseltoe Thrush,
builds her nest in trees, resting it on a branch close to the trunk, or
where the trunk ends abruptly in two or three strong branches. It is
composed of dried grass and moss, with a liberal mixture of wool, which
helps it to adhere to the bark of the tree, and is lined internally
with fine soft grass. Her eggs number from four to six, according to
some authorities, of a pale green, speckled with brown, of two shades;
however, the colours are subject to variation. She commences to breed
very early in the season, like the Common Thrush, and has been known to
lay twice in the same nest, which strengthens my opinion that the bird
does often rear two broods in one season, from the time I have known
her to occupy the same nest.


The Spoonbill lays from two to four eggs, which vary in colour,
some being entirely white, whilst others are spotted with a light
brownish-red. The nest is situated in trees, or amongst the reeds and
rushes on the ground, the bird seeming, like the Heron, partial to
society. If the nature of the position will permit, several nests are
situated close together, and are composed of sticks, coarse grass, and
dried roots, carelessly thrown together. The bird does not breed in
this country.


This bird lays from six to fifteen eggs of a pale red, brown or white,
blotched with two shades of darker brown. Her nest is situated on the
ground, on the bleak stony mountain-tops of the mainland of Scotland
and the surrounding islands. It is merely a cavity scratched in the
ground, in which the hen lays her eggs.


This noble bird builds her nest of sticks, and places it amongst rugged
cliffs, chiefly round the coast. She lays three or four eggs of a
red-brown colour, with darker blotches and clouds.


Of slight construction, the nest of this bird is situated on moorland,
heath, and marsh tracts of land; a few leaves or other dry materials,
carelessly brought together among long grass, heather, or in a tuft of
rushes, is all that appears. The eggs are four in number, pear-shaped,
and generally placed with the smaller ends together, of an olive-green
colour, blotched and spotted with darker green and dark brown.


Hooded Crows lay four or five eggs of a grey-green, blotched and
spotted with smoky brown. Their nests are built of sticks, heather,
and wool, and are situated amongst rocks and sea-cliffs in Scotland,
occasionally in trees, and are very similar to those of the Carrion


The Coot lays from seven to ten eggs, of a dingy stone colour or dull
buff, spotted and speckled with brown; the spots are less numerous but
darker than the speckles. Her nest is situated in marshes and ponds,
and is composed of decaying sedges, reeds, flags, and rushes; and,
though of clumsy appearance, is very strong. It is built on willows
that grow amongst the water, on tufts of rushes, and more commonly
among reeds. It has been known to be dislodged from its position by a
flood, and swept ashore whilst the bird was incubating without any
apparent inconvenience to her.


As might be expected, the nest of this bird is composed of sedges and
flags, in somewhat considerable quantities, and is situated under thick
cover in osier-beds and swamps in which alders grow, more especially in
the southern counties of England. The hen lays from six to nine eggs of
a creamy-white, with a few small reddish spots and dots.


The Common Bunting lays from four to six eggs of a grey colour, tinged
with red-brown, purple-brown, and ash-coloured spots or streaks. Her
nest is built of straw and coarse hay outside, lined in the interior
with fibrous roots, and sometimes with horsehair. It is situated
amongst coarse grass near to or on the ground.


This beautiful bird lays from three to six eggs of a dingy white tinged
with purple, streaked and veined with purple-brown, the streak or
vein generally terminating in a spot of the same colour. Her nest is
situated on or near the ground, sheltered by overhanging grass, and
is composed of dried or decayed leaves of grass round the exterior,
followed by a layer of finer grass, and the interior lined with

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Water Rail.  2. Common Bunting.  3. Yellow Hammer.  4. Gyr Falcon.
  5. Jack Snipe.  6. Red-backed Shrike.  7. Chough.  8. Fieldfare.
  9. Puffin.


According to some of the very best authorities on British ornithology,
the Jack Snipe does not breed in these islands although an occasional
nest is said to have been found. The bird is only a winter migrant, and
breeds in the neighbourhood of St. Petersburg. The eggs are four in
number, of a yellowish olive colour, spotted with two shades of brown,
especially on the larger end.


The Gyr Falcon does not build in the British Isles, but in Iceland,
Greenland, and the northern districts of Europe and America. The nest
is composed of sticks, seaweed, and mosses, and is situated in lofty
precipices. The eggs are two in number, mottled nearly all over with
pale reddish-brown on a dull white ground. They are larger than those
of the Peregrine Falcon, but very similar in shape and colour, as well
as in the mode in which the colour is disposed over the surface.


A Fieldfare's nest has never, within my personal knowledge, been found
in the British Isles, the birds breeding in the more northern parts of
Europe, such as Norway and Sweden, in large numbers. They build their
nests near to the trunks of spruce trees, employing such materials as
sticks and coarse grass, and weeds gathered wet, intermixed with clay,
and lined internally with long grass. The eggs number from three to
six, somewhat resembling those of the Blackbird or Ring Ouzel.


The Red-backed Shrike lays five or six eggs of a pink-white or cream
colour, with brown spots predominating at the larger end. Her nest is
composed of wool, moss, bents of grass, and hair, and is situated in
furze-bushes, whitethorn hedges, &c.


This bird builds her nest in sea-cliffs, in caves, old ruins, &c., near
the sea. It is composed of sticks, lined with a liberal application of
wool and hair. Her eggs number five or six of a dirty white colour,
spotted and blotched chiefly at the larger end with raw sienna-brown
and ash colour.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Ring Ouzel.  2. Kentish Plover.  3. Buzzard.  4. Cirl Bunting.
  5. Hawfinch.  6. Stock Dove.  7. Dartford Warbler.  8. Pochard.
  9. Black Redstart.


Lays one grey-coloured egg marked with indistinct spots of pale brown;
the nest is generally minus materials, so the egg is placed on the bare
earth at the extremity of a burrow or fissure in a sea cliff. She often
adopts a rabbit-burrow if it is situated in the immediate neighbourhood
of the sea, and should the original owner or excavator be bold enough
to dispute the right of proprietorship, this remarkable bird is not at
all indisposed to do battle for possession of the situation her fancy
has selected as a desirable place in which to carry out the duties
imposed by Nature's law for the perpetuation of the species.

In the absence of a suitable cranny or rift in the rock, or the
accommodation usually afforded by the presence of rabbits, the bird
will set to work and excavate a hole sometimes as much as three feet
deep, sticking to her task with such assiduity as often to endanger her
safety from capture.

It seems, however, that she takes great care that whatever place is
adopted for her nest it shall not be reached by even the highest tide.
The nest of the Puffin is found in great numbers in the Isle of Wight,
Puffin Island, Scilly Islands, Isle of Anglesea, and many islands on
the coast of Scotland. The parent bird cannot be induced to leave her
nest except by force, sitting very closely, and determinedly defending
it with her singularly constructed and formidable beak, with which she
bites most severely.


The mountainous districts of the North of England and Scotland are
the favourite nesting-places of this bird, which seems most at home
in lonely secluded districts. It has often struck me that it is to
this bird alone the mountain ash owes its existence high up in nearly
every little mountain valley where no other tree is to be seen, the
Ring Ouzel eating the berries and dropping the seed in all sorts of
out-of-the-way nooks and corners. The situation of the nest, its
materials and structure, also the eggs of the Ring Ouzel and Blackbird,
differ but little, and I have often had a difficulty in determining the
rightful owner of a nest, until the parent bird has been watched on or
off. The nest is composed of coarse grass, moss, and mud, with an inner
lining of finer grass, and is generally situated in clefts of rock,
steep banks, or old walls, sometimes quite on the ground. The eggs
number four or five, of a dull bluish-green, freckled or blotched with
reddish-brown, markings generally larger and fewer than those of the


No trouble is taken by this bird in nest-building, simply depositing
its eggs in some depression or hollow of the sand or shingle on the
southern coasts of England, principally Kent and Sussex. The eggs
number four, and are of a cream, stone, or pale testaceous-brown
colour, streaked and spotted with black.


The Buzzard sometimes builds a nest of sticks, hay, leaves, and wool;
at others adopts a crow's nest in some moderately high tree. Her eggs
number two, three, and even four, and are of a dingy white; sometimes
this colour alone, and at others spotted and blotched at the larger end
with red-brown.


Some low bush or furze is generally adopted by this bird for its
nesting-place. The nest is composed of dry grass, roots, and moss, with
generally an inner lining of hair, but sometimes without either moss
or hair. The eggs number four or five, of a dull bluish or cinereous
white with irregular streaks of dark brown, often terminating in a spot
at one end.


The Hawfinch builds in various kinds of trees and at various heights;
sometimes its nest is found quite exposed in a whitethorn bush, or on
the horizontal branch of an oak. It is built of twigs, &c., intermixed
with lichens, and interlined with fine fibrous roots and hair. Her eggs
number from four to six, of a pale olive-green colour, irregularly
streaked with dusky grey and spotted with black. The ground colour is
variable, being sometimes of a buffish hue.


Clefts in rocks, rabbit-holes, cavities in the trunks of trees, and
often on the ground beneath thick furze-bushes which are next door to
waterproof on account of their thickness, are the situations chosen
by the Stock Dove. Very little trouble is taken with the nest, which
merely consists of a few twigs and roots. The eggs only number two, of
a pure shining white.


Thick furze-bushes are the places chosen by this bird for its
nesting-place on the commons of Kent and Surrey. The materials used
are dead branches of furze, moss, and dry grass mixed with wool, and
lined inside with finer dead grasses, the whole structure being loosely
put together. The eggs number four or five, and are of a greenish,
sometimes buffish, white ground speckled all over with dark or
olive-brown and cinereous, which become more dense at the larger end
and form a zone. The eggs are at times more numerously spotted than at
others; then the markings are not so large.


This bird breeds in the east and south of England, also in Scotland
and Ireland, although it is much less numerous during the summer than
the winter months. The position of its nest is similar to that of the
Wild Duck, also the materials of which it is composed (dead grass and
sedge, as well as down when the bird has begun to sit). Its eggs number
from seven even to thirteen, but ten is the usual number laid, of a
greenish-buff colour.


This well-known visitor breeds in many parts of Europe and North
Africa, building a nest very similar to that of the Robin, composed
chiefly of twigs, straw, dried grass, &c., and situated in holes of
walls and other positions similar to the above-mentioned bird. Five is
the usual number of eggs; however, four only, or as many as six, are
found, generally pure white in colour, occasionally tinged faintly with
brown. Cases are recorded where they have been found spotted at the
larger end with minute brown spots.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Spotted Fly-catcher.  2. Tree Sparrow.  3. Brambling.  4. Whinchat.
  5. Scoter.  6. Grey Wagtail.  7. Smew.  8. Black-headed Bunting.
  9. Great Spotted Woodpecker.


Many curious positions for rearing a family have been chosen by the
Spotted Fly-catcher, but its nest is generally found in trees which are
trained against walls, barns, tool and summer houses. It is composed
of a diversity of material, and no fixed rule seems to be adhered
to--bents, straws, moss new and old, hairs, feathers, &c. The eggs
number four, five, or even six, of a grey-white spotted with faint
red; sometimes, but rarely, pale blue, unspotted. The ground colour
varies from grey or bluish-white to pea-green, the markings also being
in various shades, clouded, spotted, and blotched with faint red or


Holes in pollard and other trees are chosen as desirable situations by
this bird for perpetuating its race, and sometimes in the thatches of
old barns along with the Common House Sparrow. Its nest is very similar
to that of its more widely-distributed and better-known kinsman, viz.,
of hay, dry grass, and straw, with a liberal lining of nice warm
feathers. The eggs generally number four or five, of a grey colour,
thickly spotted with umber-brown or darker grey, sometimes white
with grey spots or blotches, and may be described, like the Common
Sparrow's, as variable.


Scandinavia and other countries situated in high latitudes are the
breeding haunts of this little bird, which builds a nest very similar
to the Chaffinch. It is placed fourteen or twenty feet from the
ground, in the fork of a branch shooting out from the trunk of a birch
or spruce fir-tree, and composed of moss, lichens, bark, mixed with
thistle-down, and lined with fine grass and feathers. Its eggs number
from five to seven, similar to those of the Chaffinch, the ground
colour being generally green, and the spots not so dark nor large.


The nest of this bird is composed of grass and moss of different kinds,
the stronger on the outside, and the finer forming a lining for the
interior, and is situated on the ground in positions where it is by no
means an easy task for the most veteran collector to find it. It lays
five or six eggs of a delicate bluish-green, rarely speckled or marked
with red-brown.


The most northern counties of Scotland are the nesting-places of this
bird, which gathers together such materials as twigs, grasses, dry
stalks, and leaves, placing them under cover, or in hiding, afforded
by the low-growing shrubs or plants, and lining the whole with down.
The eggs number from six to ten, and are of a pale greyish-buff colour,
sometimes slightly tinged with green.


Some naturalists describe the position of this bird's nest as on the
ground; but, personally, I have generally found them in the niches of
rocks, or under overhanging ledges or banks. The nest is composed of
moss, bents, grass, horsehair, often lined with a coat of cow's-hair,
which they rub off against walls and trees in the spring-time. This
bird's eggs number five or six, and are of a grey colour, mottled and
spotted with ochre-grey or brown, variable.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Rock Pipit.  2. Cormorant.  3. Creeper.  4. Turtle Dove.
  5. Shore Lark.  6. Gannet.  7. Quail.  8. Oyster-catcher.
  9. Cole Tit.


The nesting-place of this bird is in high latitudes, such as north-east
Russia, and the situation chosen is in the hollow trunk of a tree.
The material of which the nest is composed is taken from the bird's
body, and consists entirely of down. Her eggs number from seven to
eight, very similar to those of the Wigeon, creamy-white in colour,
fine-grained, and rather glossy.


Moist swampy localities are chosen by this bird as the situation for
its nest, which is composed of dried grass, moss, and an inner lining
of finer grass, reed-down, or horsehair, and generally, though not
always, placed on the ground, among rushes or coarse long grass. It
lays four or five eggs of a pale reddish-brown or grey with a rosy
tinge, streaked, veined, and spotted with brown of a rich dark purple


The position of the Woodpecker's nest is in the hollow trunk of some
tree. A hole generally about two feet deep is chosen, but the parent
bird does not seem to consider any attempt at nest-building in any way
necessary. The eggs are laid on pieces of wood chipped off inside,
and number four or five, white, occasionally stained or dyed by the
material on which they are laid.


Ledges or crevices of rocks near the sea-shore are the favourite
building-places of this bird. It collects such materials as dry
grasses of various kinds, and seaweed, with an inner lining of fine
grass, and occasionally horsehair. Its eggs number four or five, of
a grey ground colour, occasionally slightly tinged with green. The
spots are variable in shade, being sometimes greyish-brown, at others
reddish; the underlying ones are always light grey. The spots are
small, and more crowded at the larger end.


Rocky coasts are chosen by the Cormorant, which builds an ample nest of
sticks, seaweed, and coarse grass on some ledge or shelf of sea cliff.
Her eggs number from four to six, of a chalky-white colour, varied with
pale blue or greenish tinge, which is really the colour of the proper
shell, the white being only a rough coat.


This little bird generally builds its nest in a hollow tree, its
materials being fine twigs, dead grass, moss, and feathers, and lays
from six to nine eggs of a white ground colour, speckled with red-brown
at the larger end, much resembling those of the Willow Wren and Blue


The eastern and southern counties are the favourite nesting localities
of this Dove, which builds a loose nest of sticks and twigs, carelessly
thrown together, in a fir, holly, or other bush. The eggs number two,
are quite white, and much smaller for the size of the bird than the
Ring and Stock Doves.


Cold northern climates, like Lapland and Siberia, are chosen by the
Shore Lark for breeding places. Its nest is generally situated in some
slight hollow on the ground, and is loosely made of grass, with an
inner lining of willow-down or hair from the reindeer. Her eggs number
three, four, or five, the second figure being the general rule, and
are, like those of the Common Lark, liable to variation in colouring.
The ground colour is of a brownish or pale green, tinted white, marked
with neutral brown spots often so profuse that they cover the greyer
spots underlying entirely out.


This bird seems to prefer just the opposite course to that which most
birds adopt in the breeding season, viz., to congregate in thousands,
and breed on precipitous rocks, engaging all ledges and shelves capable
of holding a nest, which is composed of seaweed and other rubbish
picked up by the bird from the ocean, also grass. One egg only is
laid, white or bluish-white when first deposited on the nest, but soon
becoming dirty and soiled by being trodden upon. Like the Cormorant,
this bird's egg is covered with an incrustation of chalk, hiding the
colour of the true shell, which is of a greenish or bluish-white.


Green cornfields are generally the situations chosen by the Quail for a
nesting-place, where it selects a small depression in the ground, and
tramples a few blades of grass or corn down into it, occasionally a few
dead leaves. Her eggs number from seven to even as many as twenty, of
a pale yellowish-brown, mottled and clouded or blotched with red or
olive-brown; variable both in ground colour and markings.


This bird lays its eggs, which number three or four--three being
the general rule--on the bare ground, mostly in slight declivities,
taking care that they are above high-water-mark. Sometimes a few
bents, pebbles, or broken shells are used as a sort of lining. The
eggs are stone or cream colour, of a variety of shades, blotched with
dark brown, occasionally streaked and spotted with a lighter hue. The
markings are variable in character and position, some being pretty
equally distributed over the eggs, whilst others are inclined to form a
belt round the larger end.


Trunks of trees, holes in walls and banks made by rats, moles, or mice,
are selected for incubation purposes by this little bird. The nest is
built of moss, wool, and hair, and contains from five to eight, or even
nine eggs, white, spotted and freckled with light red or red-brown.


The Guillemot makes no nest at all, but deposits its single egg on the
ledges of sea-cliffs in a great many places round our coasts. A verbal
description of it is almost useless, as the colouring presents such
a wonderful variety of tints. The ground colours are white, cream,
yellowish-green, blue, reddish-brown, pea-green, purplish-brown,
&c. Some are profusely spotted and blotched or streaked with black,
black-brown, or grey in great variety; whilst others are scarcely
marked at all. Our illustration may be taken as a very good specimen of
one kind of colouring and marking, though a very pretty one might be
given of an entirely different colour and character.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Guillemot.  2. Rock Dove.  3. Dotterel.  4. Marsh Tit.
  5. Little Auk.  6. Red-Legged Partridge.  7. Sanderling.
  8. Long-tailed Titmouse.  9. Razor-bill.


Ledges and fissures or crevices in sea-cliffs are the nesting-places of
this bird, which uses sticks, twigs, heath, and dead grass for building
purposes. Her eggs are two in number, quite white.


Mountain-tops in the North of Scotland are the favourite nesting-places
of the Dotterel, which is now becoming comparatively rare in districts
where it was once common. It uses no materials for nest-making, simply
laying three eggs in a slight cavity amongst woolly-fringe moss or
other mountain vegetation which affords some little concealment. The
eggs are of a dark cream or olivaceous-brown colour thickly blotched or
spotted with dark brown or brownish-black.


Holes in trees (generally willows or pollards), banks, &c., are the
places adopted by the Marsh Tit for its nest, which is composed of
moss, wool, and down from rabbits, or the ripe catkins of willows. Her
eggs number from six to eight, or even as many as ten have been found.
They are white, spotted with red-brown, more thickly at the larger end.


The rocky shores of Spitzbergen, Greenland, and Iceland form suitable
breeding resorts for this bird, which makes no nest, but deposits its
single egg on the bare ground in some crevice or under loose rocks. The
egg is of a pale greenish-blue, or white tinged with greenish-blue,
a little spotted and veined, especially at the larger end, with
rust-colour or yellowish-brown. Sometimes the egg has no spots or
streaks, at others only indistinctly streaked or veined at the large


This bird makes a slight nest of bents and leaves upon the ground in
grass, corn, or clover fields; however, instances have been cited where
it has been found at considerable elevation. But this departure from
the general rule I have noticed with other birds on rare occasions. Her
eggs number from twelve to eighteen, of a yellow-grey or cream colour,
marked with red or cinnamon-brown.


The Sanderling is only a visitor to our shores, and breeds in Arctic
countries, such as Labrador, Greenland, &c. Its nest is composed of
grass and built upon the ground. The eggs are four in number, of a
buffish-olive ground colour, spotted and mottled plentifully with dark
brown or black, also with indistinct sub-markings of a greyish tinge.


Hedges and bushes are the positions taken up by this skilled little
architect and builder, whose beautiful work wins the admiration of all
naturalists. Oval in shape, it is of large size compared with the bird,
and strongly and compactly put together with wool, lichens, and moss,
the two former of which adhere very closely when they once become
entangled. A small hole is left on one side, pretty high up, for
ingress and egress, and the inside is lined with feathers, which make
it as warm and comfortable, at least to the human understanding, as the
outside is compact. The eggs number from seven to ten, and even sixteen
or twenty, which are probably the production of more than one bird;
white or rosy-white until blown (by reason of the yolk showing through
the thin transparent shell), with very small reddish-brown spots round
the larger end.


The Guillemot and Razor-Bill appear to be very much alike in the
choice of their position for breeding purposes, and alike only lay one
egg each; but that of the latter differs very much from the former
in diversity of colouring. It is white or buffy-white, spotted and
blotched with black, chestnut, or reddish-brown.


Low, sandy islands, such as the Wamses at the Farne and Scilly Isles,
and at suitable places on the Scottish and Irish coasts, are the
favourite breeding places of this Tern. Sometimes a slight hollow is
scratched in the sand or gravel; at others no declivity at all is
formed for the nest. Occasionally a few bits of grass are used as a
lining. The eggs number two or three, and vary from creamy-white to
dark buff in ground colour. They are blotched and spotted with
reddish- and blackish-brown and underlying light grey markings.


Breeds on low islands and in suitable places along the coast, chiefly
in the northern parts of our kingdom. I have found most nests amongst
the shingle. As a rule, no materials whatever are used. The eggs are
two or three, varying from greyish-buff to buffish-brown (I have seen
them occasionally pale blue), spotted and blotched with blackish-brown
and underlying pale grey. The eggs of this bird run slightly smaller
than those of the Common Tern.


The situation, nest, and eggs of this bird differ but little from those
of the Arctic Tern, except that the nest is often farther away from the
water's edge, and generally lined with bits of withered grass and weed.
The bird is a more abundant breeder, however, round the English coast,
and less numerous in Scotland. Its eggs run slightly larger, are not so
boldly marked, and the ground colour is less prone to an olive tinge.


One result of the recently-passed law for the better protection of Wild
Birds ought to be the stoppage of the decrease of this beautiful little
Tern's numbers. It breeds in suitable localities round our coast,
depositing its eggs on the shingle without making any nest at all.
These number two, three, and occasionally four, similar in coloration
to those of the Common and Arctic Terns, but smaller in size.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Yellow Wagtail.  2. Twite.  3. Hobby.  4. Marsh Harrier.
  5. Osprey.  6. Snow Bunting.  7. Tufted Duck.  8. Goosander.
  9. Ringed Plover.  10. Short-eared Owl.


High trees on the outsides of forests and large woods are chosen
by the Goshawk for the accommodation of its nest, which is made of
sticks, twigs, rootlets, and moss. It lays four eggs generally, but
sometimes only three are found, and at others as many as five; of a
pale bluish-white, occasionally marked with small, light reddish-brown
spots. The bird has, however, long since ceased to breed in the British
Isles, unless as a rare exception.


I have met with this somewhat local though common summer visitor's nest
most abundantly in the Yorkshire dales. It is situated on the ground,
in meadows, pastures, and on commons, and is generally sheltered by a
clod, piece of overhanging bank, or tuft of grass, and is often most
difficult to find. It is composed of grass, moss, and rootlets, with an
inner lining of horse and cow hair, sometimes a few feathers. The eggs
number from four to six, greyish-white in ground colour, and thickly
speckled with greyish- and yellowish-brown. They are very similar to
those of the Grey Wagtail.


This bird places its nest on the ground in desolate swamps and on
lonely moors in the Highlands of Scotland, and the islands lying to the
west; also in Ireland, in County Monaghan. It builds a large nest of
sticks, heather, twigs, reed, grass, and moss, with an inner lining of
down from the bird's own body. The eggs number six to eight, or even a
dozen, creamy-white, unpolished.


Although semi-domesticated and holding its footing only by the help of
strict protection, the Swan has been so long with us that it merits
treatment, I think. Its nest is composed of reeds, rushes, and grass,
with a slight lining of down and feathers, and is placed on small
islands and on the banks of lakes and rivers. The eggs number from
three or four to a dozen, according to the age of the parent bird, and
are greenish-white, roughish, and unspotted.


In caves, fissures, on ledges of maritime cliffs, and amongst huge
boulders piled up along the beach of small rocky islands around our
coasts, may be found the nest of this bird. I have seen specimens close
together vary considerably in size according to the accommodation. It
is composed of seaweed, sticks, sprigs of heather, turf, and grass. The
eggs number two, three, four, or five, generally one of the first two
numbers, the real shell being of a delicate bluish-green, but difficult
to see on account of the thick, chalky encrustation.


The nest of this pretty little bird is placed in a hole in the branch
or trunk of a tree at varying heights from the ground, and is met with
only in the pine forests of Scotland. It is composed of grass, moss,
wool, fur, and feathers. The eggs number four to seven or eight, and
are white in ground colour, freckled and spotted with reddish-brown,
generally forming a belt round the large end.


This bird is only known to nest in one or two places in Norfolk. It has
been my pleasure to examine two nests--one situated amongst rough, dead
grass, and the other in a tuft of rushes--in each case quite close to
the water. The nest is made of dry grass, rushes, or withered leaves,
and lined with beautiful soft down. From eight to twelve or thirteen
creamy-white eggs are laid.


This member of the Duck family selects the neatest and best concealed
situation of all. It is generally well hidden in a tussock of rushes
growing in or close to the water of a mere or pond. The nest is made of
dead rushes, grass, or reeds, and is lined with small dark pieces of
down, with whitish centres. The eggs are light greenish-buff in colour,
and number from eight to ten, or even thirteen. They are very similar
to those of the Pochard, but the down tufts in the nest are darker.


Found on stony, arable land, commons, and rough, bare pastures. I have
watched the bird through my binoculars, when put off her eggs, fly to
some distance and remain quite flat upon the ground, with which she
closely harmonises. The nest is a mere unlined hollow, with sometimes a
few bents in it, which may as easily as not have been blown there. Her
eggs number two, of light buffish to clay-brown ground colour, blotched
and spotted with blackish-brown and grey. I have noticed that one
egg in a nest will differ radically in the size and intensity of its
markings from the others.


So far as the British Isles are concerned, it is perhaps only safe to
say that this bird breeds at St. Kilda, although it has been reported
from other quarters. Its nest is situated on ledges of cliffs covered
with a sufficient amount of earth for the bird to make a burrow in, or
in crevices. It is sometimes lined with a scanty supply of dry grass;
at others no lining at all is used. The bird lays a single rough,
chalky-white egg.


Norfolk seems to be the last breeding resort of this duck. Its nest
is situated in reed beds, or such other vegetation as will afford the
bird plenty of concealment. It is composed of reeds, leaves, or dry
grass, and is lined with pieces of down, the long white tips of which
distinguish it from the Teal. The eggs are creamy-white, like those
of the bird above-named, and number from seven or eight to as many as


The Goosander breeds in the Highlands of Scotland, and situates its
nest in hollow trees and crevices of rock, generally near the water.
Very little, if any, material is said to be used excepting the warm
lining of greyish-white down from the bird's own body. The eggs number
from eight to a dozen or thirteen, creamy-white and smooth-shelled.


The midland and eastern counties contain the favourite breeding resorts
of this handsome bird. Its nest is composed of all kinds of dead
aquatic vegetation, such as reeds and flags, and is situated in or on
the water of lakes, broads, large tarns, and meres. The bird lays three
or four eggs, sometimes even as many as five, white and chalky when
first laid, but soon becoming soiled and dirty.


The Isle of Man, Hebrides, Orkneys, Shetlands, and some parts of
Ireland are favoured by this bird as a breeder. Its nest is situated
in crevices and under ledges and boulders of rock. No materials of any
kind are used for its nest. The eggs number two, varying from light
bluish-green to light buffy-white in ground colour, spotted, speckled,
and blotched with rich blackish-brown and pale reddish-brown and
underlying grey markings.


The nest of the Kittiwake is situated on ledges of maritime cliffs
round our coast, and at the Farne Islands. I have seen the bird
occupying such a small corner that it was unable to sit properly on its
eggs. The nest is made of seaweed and lined with dead grass. Its eggs
number two, three, and rarely four, and vary from light greenish-blue
to stone colour, or buffish-brown, blotched and spotted with varying
shades of brown and grey. The markings sometimes form a zone round the
larger end.


On the ground, amongst heather or sedges, this bird makes its nest,
in the eastern and northern counties and in Scotland. It uses next to
no materials, but such as are present consist of bits of dead reeds
and leaves. Its eggs number from four to seven or eight, pure white,
unspotted, and oval in shape.


Although nowhere abundant, this bird breeds in suitable districts
throughout England. Its nest is situated in a hole in the trunk or some
large branch of a tree, and is about seven to a dozen inches deep. I
have found it quite close to London. No materials are used for the nest
except chippings of dry wood detached in the construction of the hole.
Eggs from five or six to eight, and even nine, white, without spots,
and polished.


The nest of the Willow Wren, or Willow Warbler, is situated on or near
the ground in fields, orchards, woods, and almost everywhere. It is
made of moss, bits of dried grass, occasionally fern-fronds or leaves,
and is lined with feathers and hair. The eggs number from four or five
to seven, and upon occasion I have found eight. They are white, spotted
with reddish-brown.


I have found this bird's nest amongst low bushes, tufts of tall,
coarse grass, and amongst nettles; generally, though not always,
near water. It is composed of grass-stems lined with finer grass,
horsehair, and sometimes vegetable down in small quantities. The eggs
number five or six, light yellowish-brown tinged with blue, which
is rarely seen on account of the closely-crowded yellowish-brown or
buffish-brown markings. The eggs generally have a few streaks or lines
of blackish-brown on the larger end.


The nest of this bird is found on the ground, concealed beneath rocks,
or amongst the vegetation growing on the banks of large bodies of
water in Scotland and Ireland. I have seen it on the banks of streams,
where it must have been washed away by the first freshet. It is
composed of bits of heather, dry leaves, and down from the bird's own
body. The eggs number from six or seven to nine, or even a dozen, and
vary from buffish-grey to pale olive-grey in colour.


Breeds chiefly in the Highlands of Scotland, and the islands lying to
the west thereof. Its nest is merely a slight declivity lined with
a few bits of dry grass, dead heather, or leaves. The eggs number
four, of a stone colour or creamy-white, spotted and blotched dark
reddish-brown and grey.


The islands to the west and north of Scotland are the breeding home of
the Whimbrel. A slight dry hollow in the shelter of a tussock of grass
or heath is selected on some lonely piece of moor. The nest is lined
with a few blades of withered grass, sprigs of heather, or dead leaves.
The eggs number four, varying from darkish buff to olive-green, spotted
and blotched with reddish-brown, olive-brown, and underlying markings
of grey.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Wood Warbler.  2. Greenshank.  3. Sandwich Tern.
  4. Reed Warbler.  5. Whimbrel.  6. Black Guillemot.  7. Garganey.
  8. Red-breasted Merganser.  9. Bearded Tit.


This bird suspends its nest between the stems of reeds and branches of
willows and other trees growing from or over water. It is composed of
sedge grass, reed leaves, moss, hair, and reed-down. It is found in
the Southern and Eastern portions of England. The eggs number four or
five, light greenish-blue or greenish-white, spotted, freckled, and
clouded with greenish-brown or dark olive, and underlying markings of
greyish-brown. The spots are generally most numerous round the larger
end of the egg.


Breeds sparingly throughout England and in Southern Scotland. Its nest
is placed in tufts of coarse grass and other vegetation on the ground,
and is composed of dry grass, leaves, and bits of moss, and lined with
horsehair only. This feature will readily distinguish it from the
nest of the Chiffchaff and Willow Wren, whose semi-domed structures
it closely resembles in other respects. The eggs number from five to
seven, white in ground colour, numerously spotted and freckled with
purplish-brown and underlying markings of grey.


The Twite breeds on the moors in the North of England, Scotland, and
in Ireland. Its nest is situated on or near the ground amongst heather
or furze. It is composed of sprigs of heath, and lined with rootlets,
wool, feathers, and hair. The eggs number four or five, sometimes six,
and are similar to those of the Linnet, pale bluish-green, spotted,
speckled, and streaked with purplish-red and reddish-brown. I have
found several nests close together on a small rocky islet in the


It is thought by some writers that the exceptionally hard weather we
experienced last winter (1894-5) has extinguished this little bird in
its last resort, the fens of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire; however, it
is to be hoped that this is not the case. Its nest is composed of dead
sedge and reed leaves, lined with grass and reed-down, and is situated
near the ground in some large reed bed. The eggs number from four to
seven, light brownish-white, sparingly marked with streaks and spots of
dark brown.


So rare a breeder with us has this bird become, that a celebrated
authority recently included it in a work on British Birds' Nests only
after some hesitation; but I am pleased to say that two pairs bred last
year in one of their old haunts well-known to me. The nest is simply
a hollow in the sand or shingle of a small rocky island, at no great
height from the sea. The eggs number two or three, and exactly resemble
in coloration and size those of the Common and Arctic Terns.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Fork-tailed Petrel.  2. Mute Swan.  3. Grey-lag Goose.
  4. Fulmar Petrel.  5. Manx Shearwater.  6. Spotted Crake.
  7. Black Grouse.


This pretty little bird makes no nest in the proper sense of the
word, although I have found a few pebbles and small shells used when
a rocky place instead of a sandy beach has been chosen for breeding
upon. Its nest is generally well above high-water-mark, amongst fine
sand, shingle, or on bare rock round our coast, and on the shores of
inland sheets of water. The eggs number four, and vary from pale buff
to stone or cream colour, spotted and speckled all over with small
brownish-black and underlying inky-grey marks.


The Manx Shearwater breeds on the western coasts of England and
Scotland, in the Hebrides and islands to the north of Scotland; also
in several parts of the Irish coast and the off-lying islands. Its
nest is situated at the end of a deep burrow, which is generally dug
by the bird itself. Some observers have reported it to consist of
bits of grass and stalks, and others have found no attempt at all at
nest-building in some of the burrows they have opened. It lays a single
white, smooth egg.


This uncommon Duck breeds in one or two parts of Ireland and Scotland
still, it is said on good authority. Its nest consists of rushes,
sedge, dead grass, and tufts of dark brown down bearing white tips,
and is placed amongst rushes and such other coarse vegetation as will
afford the bird shelter. The eggs number from six to eight, or even
ten, of a pale buff colour tinged with green.


The St. Kilda group of islands forms the principal British-breeding
haunt of this bird, although colonies nest in the Hebrides and on the
Blaskets off the Irish coast. The nest is situated at the end of a
burrow made by the bird itself, or under rocks, and is composed of
withered grass, moss, and lichens. Only one egg is laid, white in
ground colour, with a belt of small brownish-red spots round the larger


A little withered grass or other herbage is used to line the depression
selected by this bird for its nesting-place, which is situated on the
ground in grassy swamps and marshes, near water as a rule, in the
North of Scotland and some of the islands lying to the west and north
thereof. Four eggs are laid, varying in ground colour from olive to
pale buff, spotted, speckled, and blotched with varying shades of dark
brown and underlying specks of light grey.


Although this bird has bred in different parts of England, its chances
of doing so now are somewhat remote, on account of the merciless
persecution it suffers at the hands of gunners. Its nest is situated
in holes in trees, walls, or rocks, and is composed of bits of straws
and dry grass. The eggs number from five to seven, and vary from light
greenish-blue to pale buff, with minute pit marks over their surface.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Golden Oriole.  2. Shag.  3. Gadwall.  4. Willow Wren.
  5. Richardson's Skua.  6. Marsh Warbler.  7. Goshawk.
  8. Pintail.  9. Arctic Tern.  10. Blue-headed Wagtail.


This bird is, to a very great extent, an accidental visitor to our
shores, but it is thought by eminent authorities that it would
become a common breeder with us were it not so dear to the heart of
the collector. It has bred in several of the southern counties of
England, and suspends its nest, which is composed of strips of bark,
wool, sedge, grass, and leaves, with an inner lining of flower-heads
of grass, beneath the forks of a large horizontal branch at some
considerable height from the ground. The eggs number four to five or
six, are white or light creamy-white, spotted with purplish-brown and
underlying markings of grey.


The Osprey, now only met with in one or two remote parts of Scotland,
employs sticks, turf, moss, and wool in the construction of its bulky
nest, which it builds on the top of a tall tree or ruin. The eggs
number three, sometimes four, varying from white to creamy-white in
ground colour, beautifully marked, and especially so at the larger end,
as a rule with rich reddish-brown. The markings vary considerably.


Although this bird is the Continental representative of our Pied
Wagtail, there are on record many well-authenticated instances of its
breeding in this country. It differs from the Pied Wagtail in being
bluish or slate grey, where that bird is black, below the nape. Its
nest, and the situation in which it is placed, do not differ from that
of the bird just named. The eggs are also similar, but are said to be
subject to greater variation in colour and markings.


The nest of this somewhat rare visitor has several times been found
in Northumberland, and it has in all probability nested on many
occasions elsewhere, without its identity being clearly established.
The nest is made of dry grass, fine roots, and moss, lined with hair
and occasionally a few feathers, and is situated on a bank or amongst
grass or corn in a similar position to that of the Yellow Wagtail.
The eggs number five as a rule, but six are sometimes found, of a
yellowish-white ground colour, spotted, freckled, and clouded with
light brown, and occasionally streaked on the larger end with fine
blackish-brown lines.


Although this bird rarely breeds with us now, its nest has occasionally
been met with in recent years in the southern counties. The nest is
placed on the ground amongst heath, fern, furze, or growing crops,
and consists of a few twigs, straws, and bits of dead grass. Its eggs
number from four to six, of a faint bluish-white, and are on rare
occasions marked with a few light reddish-brown spots.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Hen Harrier.  2. Roseate Tern.  3. Great Black-backed Gull.
  4. Lesser Black-backed Gull.  5. Great Crested Grebe.  6. Kittiwake.
  7. Stone Curlew.  8. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.  9. White Wagtail.


Game-preserving has proved a disastrous business to this bird, and it
now only breeds in a few of its old strongholds, such as Cornwall,
Wales, the Highlands, Orkneys, and Hebrides, where I have met with it.
Its nest is composed of sticks, sprigs of heather, dry grass, and wool,
and is placed upon the ground in deep heather. The eggs number from
four to six, of a pale bluish-white colour, rarely marked with a few
reddish-brown spots.


Sticks, reeds, and sedge are the materials used by this bird for
building its nest, which is situated on the ground, although instances
have been reported of it occurring in a tree. It is said to still breed
in Norfolk and the West of England. The eggs number three or four,
sometimes as many as six, it is said. They are greyish-white, slightly
tinged with light bluish-green, and occasionally marked with rusty


This bird still breeds in very small numbers in the Midlands and in the
Eastern Counties. It selects the old nest of a Crow, Wood Pigeon, or
Magpie, and deposits its three or four eggs in it without any attempt
at nest-building. The eggs are yellowish-white in ground colour, but
this is almost entirely hidden by the thick marking of reddish-brown.


The islands lying to the West and North of Scotland, also parts of the
far north of the mainland, are chosen by this Skua for its breeding
quarters. The nest is simply a slight hollow, sparingly lined with
a few bits of withered grass, and is situated on wild, unfrequented
moors and bog-land. The eggs number two, but upon occasion one only
is found, and sometimes as many as three. They vary from olive-green
to reddish-brown in ground colour, spotted and blotched with
blackish-brown and light grey. I have seen them harmonise so closely
with their surroundings that I had a great difficulty in finding them,
though I had marked the whereabouts of the nest within a few feet
through my binoculars.


Low rocky islands are the favourite breeding places of this Gull, and
they are now particularly numerous at the Farne Islands, where I have
seen the eggs lying about so thickly that the visitor had to exercise
great care to avoid treading upon them. Sometimes quite a large
quantity of seaweed is used in making the nest, at others a few bits of
grass and roots, and in some cases, where bare peat earth is available,
simply a hollow is scratched out. The eggs as a rule number three,
but sometimes only two are met with. I have seen it stated that the
bird occasionally lays four, but out of the hundreds of nests I have
examined I have never had the luck to see that number. In coloration
they vary from pale greyish-green to reddish-brown, blotched and
spotted with blackish- and greyish-brown. Sometimes the markings take
the form of streaks. The eggs, although as a rule darker than those of
the Herring Gull, are very difficult to distinguish, and I have found
no safe method short of watching the parent birds on the nest.


The flat-topped summits of rocks, stacks, and high maritime cliffs are
the usual situation for this Gull's nest; however, I have met with
it on comparatively low rocky islets in Highland sea-lochs. It does
not breed on the East Coast of England. Its nest is made of bits of
heather, dead grass, seaweed, and sometimes a few feathers, and varies
in size. The eggs number three, but sometimes only two are found,
greyish-brown or stone colour, tinged with olive and spotted with
blackish-brown and dark grey.


This bird places its nest amongst deep heather, long grass, and
rushes, ferns, and brambles, in suitable moorland parts of England,
Wales, and Scotland. It is simply a hollow lined with a few bits of
fern, heath, or dead grass. The eggs number six to ten, or even more,
yellowish-white to buff, spotted with rich reddish-brown. I have
generally found it through putting the hen off her nest.


A situation such as that afforded by a stunted bush overgrown with
weeds and close to water of some kind, chiefly in the southern
counties of England, is said to be chosen by the Marsh Warbler for its
nest. It employs grass-stems and leaves, moss and spiders' webs, in
the construction of its nest, with an inner lining of horsehair. The
eggs number from five to seven, and vary considerably in coloration.
One type is said to be greenish-white, spotted, blotched, and marbled
with olive-brown, and another greenish-blue, blotched and spotted with
olive-brown and grey underlying marks. It is a rare and local breeder
with us.


The highest mountain-tops of Scotland and the Shetlands are patronised
by the Snow Bunting during the breeding season. It makes its nest of
withered grass, fine roots, and moss, and lines it with down, wool,
hair, or feathers, and situates it in crevices of rock or amongst
loose stones. The eggs number from four to eight, but five or six are
generally found, varying from dull white to very light greenish-blue
in ground colour, spotted and blotched with reddish-brown, and
occasionally streaked with blackish-brown. The markings are most
numerous at the larger end, and the underlying ones are of a light grey
and pale brown.

[Illustration: EGGS.

  1. Hoopoe.  2. Red-necked Phalarope.  3. Crested Tit.
  4. Common Tern.  5. Red-throated Diver.  6. Black-throated Diver.
  7. Lesser Tern.  8. Montagu's Harrier.  9. Sedge Warbler.


The eastern and southern counties of England are the favourite breeding
resorts of this somewhat uncommon bird. Its nest is large, and made
of reeds, sedges, rushes, and other materials growing in swamps, and
is placed on a tussock or amongst reeds, the base generally resting
in water. The eggs number eight to ten, and even twelve, and vary in
ground colour from white to buff, the intermediate stages including
olive and greenish-white. They are spotted with reddish-brown of
varying shades, and grey.


I have seen this bird's nest in the Outer Hebrides, where it is fairly
common. It also breeds on the mainland of Scotland and in Ireland. The
nest is generally placed close to the edge of some mountain tarn or
loch, and is a mere depression trodden in the peat earth, sometimes
scantily lined with bits of dead bent or water-weeds. The eggs number
two, of a dark brownish-olive, frequently greenish, spotted with
blackish-brown, and underlying markings of a lighter character.


The Black-throated Diver breeds in the Outer Hebrides and on the
mainland of Scotland. It places its nest, which is made of reeds and
aquatic weeds, lined with grass, on the shingle of mountain-loch
shores and small islands. The eggs number two, dark olive-brown, or
buffish-brown, spotted somewhat sparingly with blackish-brown and
umber-brown. The eggs need careful identification, else they are likely
to be confused with those of the Red-throated species.



  Auk, Little, 69


  Bittern, 33
  Blackbird, 29
  Blackcap, 46
  Black Redstart, 62
  Blue Tit, 46
  Brambling, 63
  Bullfinch, 22
  Bunting, Black-headed, 65
     "     Cirl, 60
     "     Common, 56
     "     Snow, 90
  Buzzard, 60


  Capercailzie, 35
  Carrion Crow, 44
  Chaffinch, 23
  Chiffchaff, 51
  Chough, 58
  Cirl Bunting, 60
  Cole Tit, 68
  Coot, 55
  Cormorant, 66
  Crake, Spotted, 90
  Creeper, 66
  Crossbill, 32
  Crow, Carrion, 44
    "   Hooded, 55
  Cuckoo, 48
  Curlew, Common, 55
     "    Stone, 75


  Dartford Warbler, 61
  Dipper, 52
  Diver, Red-throated, 91
    "    Black-throated, 91
  Dotterel, 69
  Dove, Ring, 26
    "   Rock, 69
    "   Stock, 61
    "   Turtle, 66
  Duck, Eider, 43
    "   Wild, 47
    "   Tufted, 75
    "   Pintail, 83
  Dunlin, 36


  Eagle, Golden, 43
    "    White-tailed, 42
  Eider Duck, 43


  Falcon, Gyr, 57
     "    Peregrine, 54
  Fieldfare, 57
  Fly-catcher, Pied, 36
       "       Spotted, 62


  Gadwall, 75
  Gannet, 67
  Garden Warbler, 53
  Garganey, 76
  Golden-crested Wren, 27
  Golden Eagle, 43
     "   Plover, 37
  Goldfinch, 21
  Goose, Grey Lag, 73
  Goosander, 77
  Goshawk, 73
  Grasshopper Warbler, 43
  Grebe, Little, 35
    "    Great Crested, 77
  Greenfinch, 28
  Greenshank, 80
  Green Woodpecker, 30
  Grey Wagtail, 64
  Grouse, Red, 25
     "    Black, 89
  Guillemot, Common, 68
      "      Black, 77
  Gull, Black-headed, 50
    "   Common, 30
    "   Herring, 44
    "   Great Black-backed, 89
    "   Lesser Black-backed, 88
  Gyr Falcon, 57


  Harrier, Montagu's, 86
    "      Hen, 87
    "      Marsh, 87
  Hawfinch, 61
  Hawk, Kestrel, 25
    "   Merlin, 33
    "   Sparrow, 45
  Hedge-Sparrow, 52
  Heron, 49
  Hobby, 87
  Hooded Crow, 55
  Hoopoe, 84
  House Sparrow, 25


  Jackdaw, 25
  Jack Snipe, 57
  Jay, 24


  Kestrel, 25
  Kingfisher, 30
  Kite, 39
  Kittiwake, 78


  Landrail, 38
  Lapwing, 31
  Lark, Shore, 67
    "   Sky, 37
    "   Wood, 32
  Lesser Whitethroat, 41
  Linnet, 23


  Magpie, 22
  Marsh Tit, 69
  Martin, House, 51
    "     Sand, 39
  Meadow Pipit, 35
  Merlin, 33
  Merganser, Red-breasted, 79
  Missel Thrush, 53
  Moorhen, 31


  Nightingale, 31
  Nightjar, 33
  Nuthatch, 29


  Oriole, Golden, 85
  Osprey, 85
  Ouzel, Ring, 59
    "    Water, 52
  Owl, Barn, 31
   "   Long-eared, 40
   "   Short-eared, 78
   "   Tawny, 43
  Oyster-catcher, 68


  Partridge, 46
    "        Red-legged, 70
  Peregrine Falcon, 54
  Petrel, Stormy, 34
    "     Fulmar, 76
    "     Leach's Fork-tailed, 84
  Phalarope, Grey, 42
     "       Red-necked, 84
  Pheasant, 48
  Pied Fly-catcher, 36
    "  Wagtail, 48
  Pintail Duck, 83
  Pipit, Meadow, 35
    "    Rock, 65
    "    Tree, 36
  Plover, Golden, 37
    "     Green, 31
    "     Kentish, 60
    "     Ringed, 82
  Pochard, 62
  Ptarmigan, 54
  Puffin, 58


  Quail, 67


  Rail, Land-, 38
    "   Water, 56
  Raven, 23
  Razor-bill, 71
  Red-backed Shrike, 58
  Red-legged Partridge, 70
  Redpoll, 26
  Red-shank, 39
  Redstart, 28
      "     Black, 62
  Redwing, 40
  Ringdove, 26
  Ring Ouzel, 59
  Robin, 26
  Rock Dove, 69
    "  Pipit, 65
  Rook, 24
  Ruff, 41


  Sanderling, 70
  Sand Martin, 39
  Sandpiper, Common, 41
  Scoter, 64
  Seagull, Common, 30
  Shag, 74
  Shearwater, Manx, 83
  Shieldrake, 40
  Shore Lark, 67
  Shoveller, 42
  Shrike, Red-backed, 58
  Siskin, 27
  Skua, Common, 38
    "   Richardson's, 88
  Skylark, 37
  Smew, 65
  Snipe, Common, 50
    "    Jack, 57
  Sparrowhawk, 45
  Sparrow, Hedge, 52
    "      House, 25
    "      Tree, 63
  Spoonbill, 54
  Spotted Fly-catcher, 62
  Starling, 22
  Stint, Little, 39
  Stock Dove, 61
  Stone-chat, 34
  Storm Petrel, 34
  Swallow, 44
  Swan, Mute, 74
  Swift, 50


  Teal, 29
  Tern, Sandwich, 71
  Tern, Arctic, 72
    "   Common, 72
    "   Lesser, 72
    "   Roseate, 82
  Thrush, Common, 28
    "     Missel, 53
  Tit, Blue, 46
   "   Bearded, 82
   "   Cole, 68
   "   Great, 29
   "   Long-tailed, 70
   "   March, 69
   "   Crested, 74
  Tree Pipit, 36
    "  Sparrow, 63
  Turtle Dove, 66
  Twite, 87


  Wagtail, Grey, 64
     "     Pied, 48
     "     Yellow, 73
  Warbler, Dartford, 61
     "     White, 85
     "     Blue-headed, 86
     "     Garden, 53
     "     Grasshopper, 43
     "     Marsh, 89
     "     Reed, 80
     "     Sedge, 79
  Water Ouzel, 52
    "   Rail, 56
  Wheat-ear, 34
  Whimbrel, 80
  Whinchat, 64
  White-tailed Eagle, 42
  Whitethroat, 27
      "        Lesser, 41
  Wigeon, 38
  Wild Duck, 47
  Woodcock, 49
  Woodlark, 32
  Woodpecker, Green, 30
      "       Great Spotted, 65
      "       Lesser Spotted, 78
  Wood Warbler, 81
  Wren, Common, 24
    "   Golden-crested, 27
    "   Willow, 79
  Wryneck, 27


  Yellow-hammer, 56

Printed by Cassell & Company, Limited, La Belle Sauvage, London, E.C.


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber Notes

Obvious spelling and punctuation errors repaired. All split paragraphs
were rejoined. Hyphenation was standardized using the most common form.

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