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Title: Egyptian Birds - For the most part seen in the Nile Valley
Author: Whymper, Charles
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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                            EGYPTIAN BIRDS

                         _IN THE SAME SERIES._


                       PAINTED AND DESCRIBED BY

                            R. TALBOT KELLY

                    R.I., R.B.A., F.R.G.S., F.Z.S.

               _Containing 75 Full-page Illustrations in

                           Price =20s.= net.
                      (Post free, price 20s. 6d.)

                             PUBLISHED BY
                A. & C. BLACK, SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W.


                 64 & 66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK

                 205 FLINDERS LANE, MELBOURNE


                 309 BOW BAZAAR STREET, CALCUTTA

[Illustration: COOT

The Sacred Lake, Karnak.]


                       FOR THE MOST PART SEEN IN
                            THE NILE VALLEY


                            CHARLES WHYMPER

                        ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK

                             DEDICATED TO

                       His Highness The Khedive

                        IN GRATEFUL RECOGNITION


                               SHOWN TO

                              THE AUTHOR


The question is so often asked, "What is the name of that bird?" that
the author has tried in plainest fashion to answer such questions. The
scientific man will find little that is new in these pages; they are not
meant for him--they are alone meant for the wayfaring man who,
travelling this ancient Egypt, wishes to learn something of the birds he

C. W.



1. Coot                                                    _Frontispiece_

                                                             FACING PAGE

2. Birds in Mid-air                                                    1

3. A View on the Nile near Minieh                                     10

4. Griffon Vulture                                                    14

5. Egyptian Vulture                                                   20

6. Egyptian Kite                                                      30

7. Kites in Flight                                                    32

8. Barn-Owl                                                           34

9. Little Owl                                                         38

10. Egyptian Eagle Owl                                                42

11. Hoopoe                                                            46

12. Common Kingfisher                                                 50

13. Black and White Kingfisher                                        52

14. Little Green Bee-Eater                                            54

15. Common Swallow and Egyptian Swallow                               60

16. Pale Crag Swallow                                                 62

17. White Wagtail                                                     66

18. Crested Lark                                                      70

19. White-rumped Chat and Rosy Chat                                   72

20. Blue-throated Warbler                                             74

21. Reed Warbler                                                      78

22. Sparrow                                                           82

23. Desert Bullfinch or Trumpeter Finch                               86

24. Hooded Crow                                                       90

25. Egyptian Palm Doves                                               92

26. Sand-Grouse                                                       94

27. Hey's Sand-Partridge                                             100

28. Quail                                                            104

29. Cream-coloured Courser                                           108

30. Green Plover or Lapwing                                          112

31. Spur-winged Plover                                               114

32. Black-headed Plover                                              116

33. Ringed Plover                                                    120

34. Common Snipe                                                     126

35. Painted Snipe                                                    128

36. Avocet                                                           130

37. Sacred Ibis and Papyrus                                          132

38. Cranes                                                           136

39. Spoonbills                                                       140

40. Black Stork                                                      142

41. Shoebill Stork                                                   148

42. Herons                                                           152

43. Buff-backed Heron                                                156

44. Night Heron                                                      160

45. Flamingo                                                         162

46. Studies of Gallinule                                             168

47. Egyptian Geese                                                   174

48. Pintail, Teal, and Shoveller Duck                                178

49. White Pelicans                                                   186

50. Cormorants                                                       192

51. Lesser Black-backed Gull and Black-headed Gull                   198

_Also eleven line drawings in the text._

[Illustration: BIRDS IN MID-AIR]


Pliny declares that it was by watching the flight of birds in general,
and of the Kite in particular, that men first conceived the idea of
steering their boats and ships with a tail or rudder, for, says he,
"these birds by the turning and steering by their tails showed in the
air what was needful to be done in the deep." Nowhere can the aerial
movements of birds be better studied than on the Nile, and as one's eye
becomes trained it is just by the varying individual methods of flight
that one is often able to identify the particular species of birds. This
is to the most casual observer self-evident in those birds that fly
close, near, or over one's head; but it is astonishing how, as the eye
gets trained, even a faint speck high up in mid-air can be absolutely
identified by some peculiarity of shape and movement. On Plate 2 are
some half-dozen different birds depicted as in flight, to assist the
reader to identify the birds he will frequently see.

No. 1 is the ordinary Kite of Egypt. Seen as soon as one lands at
Alexandria or Port Said: it is with us everywhere. Its most distinctive
characteristics are the forked shape of its tail, and its familiarity
with man, the latter leading it to have no sort of fear of flying near
one, so near that its yellow beak and ever-restless eye, as it turns its
head this way or that, can easily be seen, whilst its tail, moving in
sympathy, sweeps it round to right or left.

No. 2 is the Kestrel, or Windhover of England. As this hawk is not a
devourer of carrion, but feeds on mice, lizards, beetles, and other
living things, it does not usually come so near the habitations of men,
and is rarely seen in the centre of cities, but on the outskirts of
towns and up the country it is common enough. When seen hovering with
its body hanging in mid-air, with its wings rapidly beating above its
head as shown, there should be no difficulty in recognising it. Again,
when flying low its rich brown-red plumage and sharp-pointed wings
should be noted, and if seen dashing into some cleft of ruined masonry
or rocky cliff-side it can often be identified by the incessant,
penetrating, squeaky call of the young in the nest, for by the time most
visitors are in the country, _i.e._ March and April, it has its young
nearly fully fledged.

No. 3 is a Peregrine Falcon. In general shape this is typical of all
the falcons, and gives a characteristic attitude in its rushing downward
swoop. The head is blunt and sunk into the shoulders, the wings are
stiff, rigid, pointed and powerful, the tail straight and firm.

Nos. 4 and 5 are Vultures shown flying farther away from the spectator's
eye, and consequently on a smaller scale. The black and white of the
adult Egyptian Vulture, No. 4, is such a distinctive characteristic that
recognition is easy, but in the case of the young bird the plumage is
dirty brown and grey with faint dark streaks on it, and at that stage
might be confused with Griffon Vultures, if it were not for its smaller
size. In flying, the way it tucks its head in so that only its bill
seems visible, and the very small tail in proportion to the wing area,
are the outstanding peculiarities of this, and indeed all Vultures.

No. 5 shows a distant group of Griffons, purposely placed at a distance,
as on the small space of a page, if they were brought as near the eye as
the other birds, they would completely cover the whole space, for they
have an enormous span of wing. Note how small the tail is, and how the
head is practically invisible.

Nos. 6 and 7 are of different orders of birds altogether, one being a
Stork, the other the Heron. The Storks fly with outstretched neck,
whilst all of the great family of Herons fly with their neck doubled up
and the head rather tucked back towards the shoulders.

If these seven characteristic diagrammatic pictures of birds are once
really learnt, it will enable the most ordinary observer not only to
know those particular six birds, but the whole families, meaning many
scores of birds of which these are chosen as representatives. The
eyesight of some may need help in the form of a good field-glass. What
is a good field-glass each individual must discover for him or herself,
since the good glass is the one that really suits the sight of its
owner. Some of the most noted glasses of to-day are not, anyhow to
myself, of as much use as an old-fashioned one that I have had for
years, and with which I am able _at once_ to "get on" to the object I
wish to observe. This is a most important detail, because birds are
rarely still or quiet for long. When flying, this is particularly the
case, and the simpler the glass and its mechanism the quicker you are on
the object,--and this when, perhaps, you have only a matter of seconds
for your observation is of first importance. As I do not wish either to
embark on a libel action on the one side, or act as an advertiser of any
maker, not even of the maker of my own glass, I praise or blame none,
but suggest with all earnestness to every one who desires to really
enjoy the study of bird life on the Nile or in their own country,
without fail to get a glass that suits them, and which they can handle
with lightning speed. I dwell on this because I have met so many having
most expensive modern glasses who say they cannot find any pleasure in
using them on birds, and I generally find that it is owing to the small
field that their glasses cover. Sometimes these glasses are of quite
extraordinary power, so that I have heard a man declare he could see a
fly crawling over a carved face on the tip-top of some far-away temple,
but that type of glass is not what is wanted for rough and ready quick
field work, and it is of no more use than the three-feet long telescope
still beloved by the Scotch stalkers. Birds rarely if ever allow time
for one to lie down on one's back, and with help of stout stick and the
top of knee make a firm stand on which to place the glass and get the
range. Over twenty-five years ago I wrote on "Nature through a
Field-glass,"[1] and although since then one has had to alter one's
views on so many different points, I do not think I would wish to alter
one single word in the claim made for the value of this aid to Nature
study. So many birds are such small objects, that ten or fifteen paces
away they are mere spots, and very difficult to recognise, as the detail
of their plumage at that distance is lost, and all you can say is, that
it is some small bird, but with a glass you can have it brought up to
your very eye, you can see the arrangement of the masses of the
feathers, and note even the ever lifting and falling of its little
crest, as it goes creeping and stealthily gliding through the twigs and
bushes after its insect food.

 [1] In _The Art Journal_.

Egypt certainly is singularly fortunate in that birds here are far tamer
than we find them at home, and so admit of a closer inspection; but even
so, I should have been, times without number, utterly at a loss to
exactly identify certain birds if it were not for my trusty glasses.
There are some occasions where, owing to the extraordinary tameness of
birds, no glasses are needed, and I recommend to all bird enthusiasts
the ground within the areas under the control of the Antiquities
Department. No guns are allowed there, as they are up and down the Nile,
and the birds know it. One of my favourite places of observation was at
the Sacred Lake at Karnac. By the courtesy of Mr. Weigall, Chief
Inspector of Antiquities, Upper Egypt, I was allowed to sleep in a
disused building by the water-side, and by that means enjoyed
opportunities, which fall to the lot of few, of studying bird life from
midnight to early morning, and it is astonishing the number of birds
that foregather to that quiet spot. Practically all night through there
were sounds of birds coming or going at intervals. The calling of Coots
one to another were the commonest sounds during the darkest hours; but
at about 3 A.M., when I thought I could discern a little light, I would
distinctly hear the "scarpe scarpe" cry of Snipe. A little later the
hooting of the Eagle Owl, whom I knew had his nest up on the top of one
of the end columns of the great hall, and then gradually from this side,
then from that, came an ever-increasing series of calls and pipings, and
one could make out flocks of Duck disappearing over the ridge of sand
and broken-up masses of masonry. Later, shadowy forms of Greenshank or
Plover showed as they went paddling by some faintly lighted-up pool,
till at last the sun was up, and crested Larks were running round the
banks fearlessly, and blue-throated warblers were hopping about the few
bushes at the edge, and ever and anon flitting down to the ground and
back again to the leafy shelter.

The question is asked and asked, but no very distinct answer comes, why
are the birds so tame in Egypt? I am at a loss to know myself, for the
land teems with foxes, jackals, kites, vultures, eagles, falcons, and
hawks without end, all with an eye to business, ever circling round
ready to devour any unprotected thing they can lay claws upon, and yet
this seemingly utter fearlessness of all these mild-natured, defenceless
little birds. Further, here in Egypt are perhaps more "demon boys" than
are to be found elsewhere, and I hold firmly with the ancient sage, who
said "that of all savage beasts the boy is the worst," so that the
tameness of some of Egypt's birds is one more mystery of this land of

In the following pages I have almost entirely spoken of the particular
birds pictured in the illustrations. I am quite prepared for the
question, however, "But why did you not include such and such a bird?"
and my defence can only be the old one of the difficulty of settling
various person's ideas of what should be considered the best
representative list of anything--whether it be birds, books, or pretty
women. It must also be remembered that Egypt proper--the area alone
treated upon in these pages--begins at Alexandria and ends at Assoan, a
stretch of country of about 525 miles, whilst the breadth may be
anything from fifty miles to less than one. From that area our selection
has had to be mainly confined, and it has meant excluding a certain
number of very beautiful and interesting forms.

Bird lovers should remember that when the, at first, seemingly rather
extortionate demand of 120 piastres is made, before they are given the
card which admits them to the temples, tombs, and areas under the
control of the Antiquities Department, they are, in a very important
way, really helping on the preservation of birds, for, as already has
been said, on no ground under the control of the Department are birds
allowed to be shot, and as these spots are the very ones in all Egypt
most visited, it is very necessary, as amongst the thousands of tourists
that are made familiar with the fact that wild duck, snipe, and waders
were very tame at these places, there would always be some
unsportsmanlike guns, who would seize the opportunity of going to those
very places. Then no longer would the hooting of owls be heard in the
ruins, no swallows nesting in the rock-hewn tombs, and no coot and
wildfowl would ever be seen on the small sheets of water or sacred lakes
that adjoin the temples. That all these birds are there means a very
great added interest to these places to every one, and to some of us
bird enthusiasts the living interest is greater than that which we can
whip up for those heavy, severe, architectural achievements, or wild
chaotic masses of ruined masonry.

Elsewhere the point of the scarcity of bird life in the hot summer
months has been spoken of, but it is also curious to note that there are
just about three to five weeks of mid-winter during which there is no
migratory wave seemingly going on at all, up or down the Nile valley. No
bands, great or small, of birds heading due north or due south are ever
to be seen, and the remark is often made on the paucity of bird life,
some persons even declaring that it is "a birdless land." That the
native birds are very small in number is true, but the total number of
birds, and varieties of birds, that come for a time and pass on is very
great. Those that live in temperate climes do, however, have the best of
the deal, as it must ever be a greater


possession to have the birds nesting around one than merely passing
by in migrating flights, be those flights as amazing as they may. Birds,
from whatever reason is not certainly known, do not love the excessively
hot or cold areas as breeding-places, but do seem to love the more
moderate temperate climes. In Great Britain the number of birds that
will and do breed within a very small tract of ground is amazing, and
Mr. Kearton tells of a small copse in Hertfordshire in which were the
nests, with eggs or young, of nine different species of birds, all
within fifty yards of one another; and in another case, within a space
of ten yards, were a tit's, a flycatcher's, and a wood wren's nest. In
Egypt, the number of birds breeding is not large, and excepting some of
the great lakes with their margins of shallow water and swampy reeds,
there are few places that offer any attractions for birds to nest in any
numbers. In the groves of palms you do get many doves building in close
proximity with kites and crows, and along certain stretches of the Nile
banks large colonies of sand-martins build, but with these exceptions
the fact remains that this country has not a large list of birds
breeding in any numbers. In the great lakes of Lower Egypt and the
Fayoum there are, however, enormous areas of some of the best
feeding-grounds imaginable for water-fowl, and the fowl know it; nowhere
can be seen more variety of duck, and herons, and waders, and shore
birds, than at Lake Menzaleh. Elsewhere, I have already referred to my
visit in March and April to this little known part of Egypt, and I wish
that those who say this is "a birdless land," would only go and stay a
few days at Kantara, Matariya, Damietta or Port Said, and then see if
they could still call it "birdless." The extreme north and east side of
the lake is separated only from the Mediterranean by a narrow bank of
sand. Its waters are brackish, the Nile contributes but little to its
bulk, and the opinion is largely held that if it could be made to
contribute more, the food supply for the fish in it would be
considerably increased, to the very great benefit of the fish supply of
the country. Every village and town on the lake has many fishermen with
boats out night and day. They catch a very large quantity, but it is
said every year the size of the fish caught is steadily decreasing, and
to increase the food-supply for the fish is now the aim of the
authorities. This matter does not immediately affect the birds, as they
love the small fry, but if Lake Menzaleh were to once lose its value as
a supplier of profitable fish food, it might come to pass that some
future engineer would turn his attention to this great area of waste
water, and turn it into profitable cultivated ground, and then the birds
would be driven away here as completely as they were in England when our
fens and meres were drained to make good corn land. Therefore, this
proposal to let in more Nile water is of much importance to Menzaleh
remaining the great stronghold of bird life in Egypt. At present the
spectacle it presents of its crowds of birds seen under the almost
constant blue sky, is one that all would be very sorry to lose. The
Flamingo come as its crowning glory, but the list of birds is long, and
Mr. M. J. Nicoll tells how in only one week's stay, at Gheit-el-Nassara,
on the north-west side of the lake, he met with no less than
eighty-seven species. The ordinary visitor to Egypt hurries away from
Alexandria or Port Said, but any who love Nature ought to leave a few
days for places other than the Nile, if they are to obtain anything at
all like a complete knowledge of Egyptian Birds.


Gyps fulvus

Arabic, _Rakham_.

     Head and neck bare of fine feathers, but covered with short white
     down. Lower part of the neck surrounded by a ruff of long, thin,
     lance-shaped feathers, generally but not always white; sometimes it
     is buffish, sometimes rich rufous; wings at shoulders are light
     greyish brown, getting darker to nearly black on the large flight
     feathers. Breast and flanks grey, brown under tail-coverts a
     brighter burnt-sienna tone. Legs dull grey; base of beak yellow.
     Young birds are generally duller and lighter coloured than adults.

     Length, 48 inches, but individuals vary greatly.

This is the Vulture so constantly depicted on the monuments of Egypt,
and I do not think that any one has ever raised the slightest doubt of
its identity; but the same can hardly be said of all the birds thereon



 Many different arrangements have been made of the order in which birds
 should be placed, some placing one, others, another family first, and
 the wise men are even yet not all agreed, so that the old-time method
 has been adopted of beginning with the birds of prey, since it is
 probably the order with which the ordinary reader is most familiar.

 Eagles are not common, and though in the complete list of Egyptian
 birds the names of four are given, it is hardly likely to be a bird
 seen, whilst Vultures and Kites, and certain Hawks, most certainly
 will be.

[Illustration: GRIFFON VULTURE]

Mr. Howard Carter, whose long connection with the work of the
Antiquities of Egypt gives him the right to speak with authority, is now
preparing for publication a book on this whole subject of the portrayal
of animal life by Egyptian art, which is awaited with great interest, as
he has given years of study to this one branch; and though I may venture
to say something now and again of the present-day birds, and their
pictured presentments in temples or tombs, the reader will do well to
wait till Mr. Carter's book is published before coming to too positive a
conclusion on a rather vexed subject. Of the Vulture there is no doubt,
but of which of the existing hawks was the model of the Hawk almost as
frequently depicted as the Vulture few are agreed, and personally I can
arrive at no very satisfactory conclusion.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.


_From a monument of Nectanebo in the Louvre._]

The Griffon Vulture is common now, and probably always has been. Its
usefulness is undeniable, and it practically does no harm. It takes no
toll of lambs or kids, and I never have heard of it snatching up the
smallest of chickens. Its food is entirely carrion with the addition,
possibly, of an occasional lizard or small snake. Vultures and Kites
together are the very best of workmen, for the work they undertake they
do absolutely thoroughly. No one has to go after them and clear up what
they leave half-done, for they never leave anything half-done, be it a
dead camel, or ten dead donkeys, or a mass of putrid offal from the
shambles. They come; they see; they swallow; and not one speck or scrap
of flesh or sinew will be left to-morrow on all those snow-white bones,
and not the slightest sign of anything that can putrefy will even stain
the ground; all is cleared away, and all corrupting danger gone by the
time they have flown. They will remain all night through and the next
day, if the job is a big one, and never dream of charging overtime! It
is doubtless this that makes the natives of Eastern countries so
unspeakably careless, as we think, of all sanitary precautions. They
know that they need take no trouble; in a matter of hours, days at most,
these winged scavengers will come, save them all bother and trouble, and
clear the mess away. It is also this, one is disposed to think, and
this alone, that is at the bottom of what to us seems an amazing fact,
that they never destroy birds, so that even birds whose travels take
them out of Egypt for a season, returning, know that here anyhow they
will not be molested, and show themselves familiarly where in other
countries they would exhibit the very opposite tendency.

Of late years a change has undoubtedly taken place in some birds owing
to the ever-increasing number of visitors, many of whom come with guns
determined to get specimens. Birds are not fools, and the great Griffon
in particular seems to have learnt that it behoves him to have a care,
and distrust the too near approach of the white man who may desire to
possess his great wings to mount as trophies: and one has heard of its
becoming quite a difficult matter to get within range of these grand
birds. Grand birds they are indeed when seen on the wing fairly near.
When far up in mid-air they strike your imagination as mysterious,
marvellous masters of the air, but see them close enough to make out
their very feathers, and then no other word comes to your lips but,
"What grand birds!" All the sleepy, dull, heavy look that they have when
clumsily walking, half hopping, on the ground, or when sitting huddled
up, at once disappears, and you acclaim the Griffon the king of flying
things. A sea-gull, a swallow, an eagle, and many another, are all
splendid in their graceful mastery over, and use of, the air we live in,
but for sheer majesty of dominion I know no equal to the great Griffon

One has often seen it on the sand-banks by the river's side, sitting
perhaps, either dozing after a gorge or waiting for the late lamented to
reach just that nice point which means dinner-time. Sometimes they
mildly squabble amongst themselves; sometimes they advance open-mouthed
on some late arrival who comes swooping down with feet and legs
stretched out well in front of him. But on the whole, I think, after its
flight, its one outstanding virtue is its sociability. We none of us
quite like that person who shuns his fellows, and was never known to
have any gathering of friends even in simplest social fashion, and with
birds there are some of those selfish kinds who prefer to live alone and
feed alone, and absolutely resent any attempted sociability. But the
Vulture, in spite of his rather forbidding face, is a downright sociable
creature. On many a time one has seen Egyptian Vultures feeding with a
dozen of their bigger cousins, who, when themselves well fed, have
allowed even the despised crows to have some pickings from the feast.

Being tied up to a bank for two or three days during the Hamseen wind,
which was blowing a perfect gale right in our teeth, I saw a curious
sight of Vultures turning themselves into a sort of coroner's jury on a
dead buffalo. In the centre of a little sheltered bay was the "dear
departed," who was being closely examined and overhauled by a gaunt,
sandy-coloured native dog. There he sat like a coroner growling out his
observations, whilst the twelve--there were just a dozen Vultures--sat
placidly waiting their turn for a closer study of the remains. They sat
so long and patiently that one was surprised they did not end the matter
in force, drive away the presiding officer, and get to real business,
but we left them still waiting and seemingly discussing what was to be
the verdict.

Whenever one has been taken to see a Vulture in captivity, either in
hotel or other gardens, it has usually been this, the Griffon Vulture,
that has been the unhappy captive.


Neophron percnopterus

_Racham_, Arabic

     White all over body, wings black, a curious fringe of long feathers
     round the head; these sometimes get stained a more or less strong
     yellow; bare parts round eye and beak, yellow. Legs pinky, eyes
     carmine red, but Shelley says they do not get the full red eye till
     their fourth year.

     Entire length, 27 inches.

This vulture, as shown by the above description, is markedly different
from the great Griffon Vulture, and there can be no possible mistake in
recognising it. From the tail-piece, which is taken from a painting of
one on the inside of a wooden outside coffin casing, one can easily see
the peculiarities of this bird; and at Deir-el-Bahari there are many
painted examples showing the bird more or less in its natural colours,
the bright yellow of the bill is shown, and the dark wings are rendered
in a dull green. Why they should render one colour by another seems
strange, but here again we must wait till Mr. Howard Carter gives us his
explanation of this and the many other points he is still patiently
working out. The wonderful way in

[Illustration: EGYPTIAN VULTURE]

which the vultures assemble directly there is anything in the way
of carrion has been often noticed: they will appear where a moment
before there was not one to be seen either on the earth or in the blue
vault. And this was at one time regarded as one of the wonders of the
bird world; but as is so often the case, more exact knowledge rather
reduces the marvellous. The habit of vultures is to fly at a very great
height and to keep circling round; each bird practically keeps to one
area, another takes a great sweeping circle adjoining; and others all
the way round are in the same fashion, ever circling on the look-out.
The moment one discerns anything down he swoops; this is instantly
observed by the bird on the adjoining beat, and down he rushes; this
again is repeated indefinitely, and so in a few minutes a dozen or more
vultures may be there at the find where before were none. The circles
that each make are frequently very large, perhaps many miles; it can
easily be imagined, therefore, what a large area can be covered, and
covered most minutely, by, say, half a dozen birds. The young are very
different in plumage, being a rather dirty grey-brown all over, with
brown eyes, and they retain this peculiarity till their fourth year,
when they get the white and black plumage. But they somehow always look
untidy birds. This perhaps holds good of all vultures when sitting in
repose; their wings seem to be too loose jointed, and they hang their
feathers so as to give the impression that they are not firmly fixed in
and might fall out, but the moment they spring into the air their wings
gain at once a sort of rigidity, and all the sloppy, untidy effect
disappears. This bird is certainly more often seen than the preceding,
since it is not afraid of the haunts of man; but one is not at all
certain that it is really commoner. In all the representations of this
as of other birds, the old Egyptian artists have a curious habit of
depicting their birds with their legs stretched out too far in front,
and looking as if the bird were in danger of falling over backwards.

Once as we were drifting by a bit of sandbank, the river being very low,
I remember well an awful-looking, unrecognisable object, dirty,
dishevelled, and, as children say, "very bluggy," coming towards us over
the skyline. It more resembled some poor drunk man who had been fighting
and had got fearfully knocked about, and what bird it was, if bird at
all, we knew not. Well, this dilapidated-looking thing walked slowly
down the slope to the water's edge; then we saw it had been having a
real gorge; it was hideously rotund, and had apparently been living
inside "the joint" until, sick with repletion, unable to fly, its very
feathers clogged with gore, it made its way down to refreshen and clean
itself, which when done, to our surprise it turned out to be just a
common Egyptian Vulture.

Why the Vultures are featherless on neck and head is told in an old
story in Curzon's _Monasteries of the Levant_. King Solomon, according
to this account, was journeying in the heat of the day. "The fiery beams
were beginning to scorch his neck and shoulders when he saw a flock of
vultures flying past. 'O Vultures!' cried King Solomon, 'come and fly
between me and the sun, and make a shadow with your wings to protect me,
for its rays are scorching my neck and face.' But the Vultures would
not, so the King lifted up his voice and cursed them, and told them that
as they would not obey, 'The feathers of your neck shall fall off, and
the heat of the sun, and the cold of the winter, and the keenness of the
wind, and the beating of the rain, shall fall upon your rebellious
necks, which shall not be protected like other birds. And whereas you
have hitherto fared delicately, henceforth ye shall eat carrion and
feed upon offal; and your race shall be impure till the end of the
world.' And it was done unto the Vultures as King Solomon had said."


[Illustration: FIGS. 3 AND 4.

_Drawing from a painting of a Hawk at Karnak, to show the overlap of the
wing feathers._]


Falco tinnunculus

     The male has the upper plumage of head, back, and wings red-brown,
     spotted and barred with black; under-parts buff with black spots on
     flanks, and which on breast are smaller and closer together, making
     long lines. Rump and tail blue-grey, barred with black, one broad
     bar at end of tail tipped with pure white, base of bill and legs
     yellow, eyes brown. The female is without the blue-grey, and is
     more evenly brown all over, with spots and bars on the tail.

     Length, 13·5 inches.

This is the commonest Hawk, and nests in nearly all the ruins of temples
and old buildings up and down the land, and, as already stated, the
young are often to be heard when they cannot be seen, calling with their
incessant squeaky voice for their devoted parents. The parents are to be
seen searching for food, hovering over the fields in the same way that
they do at home, for this bird is the familiar Windhover (see Plate
II.). The quantity of mice that it consumes is enormous, and of lizards,
beetles, and particularly locusts, it also takes toll. So that though it
does not do the useful work that the Kites are doing day by day, it
still clears the land of what would otherwise be grave scourges.

The Kestrel is one of the birds of which large quantities of mummies
have been found, and it was clearly treated with quite sacred rites,
lending colour to the views of some that this is the original of the
Hawk so frequently pictured and sculptured. This question is one,
however, that as doctors disagree upon, it is not for a layman to
venture judgment; but several of the best preserved specimens of
wall-paintings at Deir-el-Bahari in their drawing suggest much more the
shape of a long-legged Sparrow Hawk than the compact Kestrel. The
colouring of these pictures is so different, sometimes one part of a
bird will be in red, in others it will be green. We are told, however,
that this is all right and they both are right; this is something of a
mystery and passes my own comprehension. The view is certainly possible
that these ancient artists never thought any future race of mankind
would come worrying round to know what particular specific kind of bird
was meant, they alone desiring to give a rendering of a typical Hawk.

Honestly admiring the fine work of these old artists, I yet retain my
own liberty to point out what is wrong, and the accompanying
illustrations show a very glaring error which is repeated over and over
again, a thousand times, throughout the temples and tombs of the
country. Fig. 3 shows the two wings of a painted hawk at Karnak; the
right wing shows the outside, the left the inside of the wing. In the
right wing the feathers are shown with their front edge lapping over the
hind edge of the feather next in front. This gives a certain strength to
the whole surface of the wing-area needed for flight, and if that be an
accurate representation of the outside of a Hawk's wing in nature, and
it is, then it follows that the inside surface would show the reverse;
that is to say, the free edge of each feather would show over-lapping
the feather next behind it, as shown in figures Nos. 4 and 5. But Fig. 3
shows how the ancients thought birds should have their feathers placed,
back and front, both identical. In all humility, I have once or twice
pointed this out to devout Egyptologists, but they pass it over. "A mere
convention," they say; "they always render wings so; worship, worship!"

[Illustration: FIG. 5.

_Drawing of the primary quills of a Hawk, from Nature. Seen from the
under surface to show the overlap of the feathers._]

Mr. J. H. Gurney says that Egyptian Kestrels are certainly bolder than
the British, and that he has "seen one swoop at a Booted Eagle," and
another "feather a Hooded Crow which ventured too near its nest." He
also draws attention to its size, and I think that it is certainly
frequently of smaller dimensions than those at home; indeed, on the
score of size, it is not easy to distinguish it from the Lesser Kestrel.

There are two Kestrels in Egypt: the one we have already described, and
the Lesser Kestrel, which is like a small edition of the former, with
the exception that his back and wings of bright red-brown are without
spots, and the breast is only marked with small black spots, while the
claws are yellowish white. Its length is 11.5 inches. When seen flying
it is well-nigh impossible to identify it from the larger species, and I
have heard of cases of men having shot what they thought was the Common
Kestrel, and finding to their astonishment that it was the much rarer
Lesser Kestrel. Its food consists mainly of insects and beetles, but it
varies this stock diet with mice. I have seen it sitting in a cleft of
the wall of the Ramaseum and other temples, but it is by no means a
common bird. It nests commonly in the ruins and temples, and on the high
cliffs, and its young can be oftener heard than seen, as they utter a
very penetrating squeak, squeak, squeak call.


Milvus aegyptius

Arabic, _Hiddayer_

     Plumage--Head and neck grey; back and wings dark brown, under parts
     a rufous brown, the edges of the feathers lighter than the centres,
     which have a dusky streak, whilst the tail is broadly barred. Cere
     and legs yellow.

This Kite, which is seen everywhere, is not the Kite which we have
accounts of as being once common in England, and which could be seen
long years ago flying round St. Paul's Cathedral; but it is a true
Egyptian native. I have it from men who have lived long in Egypt,
through summer as well as winter, that in the really hot months this
bird is practically the only feathered fowl one ever does see during
those glaring months. There may be other birds left in the country, but
you do not see them; they wisely keep out of sight in whatever isolated
shaded place they can find. The Kite alone bears the full glare of that
broiling sun, ever on the look out for every chance of a mouthful of any
decaying nastiness it can secure, and

[Illustration: EGYPTIAN KITE]

in this is the secret of its privileged position; unmolested even
in the busiest haunts of men, secure in crowded city or up-country
village, its services as scavenger are invaluable, and when every other
bird has fled it never for a day quits its post or ceases its labours.

We will spare the reader a detailed menu of this omnivorous bird, but
all who visit Egypt ought to bless it, as until some enlightened system
of sanitation is adopted, this bird, almost unaided, makes the land
possible to live in, or to be visited with any safety or pleasure. If it
were exterminated as the Kites have been in Great Britain, it is almost
impossible to exaggerate what would be the dire results to the health of
the newcomers to this old Eastern country. Mercifully there seems no
sort of chance of its numbers decreasing. Indeed, in 1908 I saw behind
the New Winter Palace Hotel at Luxor, a flock which certainly ran into
hundreds; two dead donkeys thrown out behind the walls of the Hotel
grounds were the cause of this vast congregation. They never leave a
shred of anything more than the bones, picked as clean and white as the
paper this is printed on; they tidy it all up, and for days after the
main body of birds have left, a stray bird or two comes sweeping down
to see if there is any tiny scrap of flesh, or skin, or sinew left
hidden away under stone or sand. On several occasions I have seen Kites
bathing in the water, so presumably, although they are called unclean
birds, they are in reality as cleanly as most. As far as personal
observation goes I should call the Swifts and Swallows the dirtiest
birds; anyhow they are more infested with odious parasites than any
other birds I have handled. Kites build untidy, clumsy nests of sticks;
rubbish, rags, and even bits of newspapers are to be sometimes found
hanging on the outside: they are generally placed in the upper boughs of
some high tree, and in many of the gardens in the centre of squares in
Cairo you can watch them bringing food to their squealing young. They
breed very early, and often they have a brood hatched by the end of

There is something very fascinating in watching their flight, it seems
so easy and strong, and from its complete fearlessness it approaches so
near the spectator that the movement of the tail as it turns to right or
left can be seen acting as a well-directed rudder. As already stated,
Pliny says it was observing this that gave man his first idea of how to
steer his boats and ships. And

[Illustration: KITES IN FLIGHT]

the frequent stooping of the head down to the food it holds in its
feet is another interesting action that can be watched clearly without
the aid of field-glasses, as it passes close overhead. The tail of the
young is not so forked as in the adult, and the general plumage duller
coloured all over.

The Black Kite, _Milvus migrans_, is said to be a very rare bird in
Egypt, but I certainly think it is commoner than some imagine. It is
very similar in general appearance to the last, and unless seen very
near is hard to identify. On 13th January 1908 I was fortunate, however,
in seeing some three or four at the river-side at Karnak, beaten down
low by a high wind, with completely black beaks and very dark rich
black-brown plumage. Mr. Erskine Nicol, who was with me, also noted
them. Shelley says, "The general shade of the plumage is blacker. The
dark streaks down the centres of feathers on throat and crop are broader
than in the Egyptian Kite, and the bill is entirely black."

Length, 23·3 inches.


=Strix flammea=

Arabic, _Boma buda_

     Plumage of upper-parts a tawny yellow, mottled, speckled, and
     pencilled with delicate grey, black and white; face white, as are
     the under-parts; individuals vary in being lighter or darker;
     buffish-white on chest, feet pinkish, beak yellowish. Entire
     length, 13·5 inches.

Either of the two last English names are perhaps in this case more
suitable than the first, as barns in Egypt are scarce, whilst this owl
is common, and is met with in temples and tombs fairly frequently.

In the past it must always have been a common bird, as it is one of the
few quite easily identified birds used in hieroglyphics (in spite of
which, to my astonishment, in a recent work on Egypt this owl is called
the Horned Owl).

The Barn Owl has practically a world-wide range, being found not only in
Europe but Africa, Asia, Australia, and America, and though examples
from certain localities do show some variation in plumage, it is still
always unmistakably the Barn Owl. It


is, however, not met with within the Arctic Circle. At home its
food is nearly entirely mice, but in Egypt it has no hedgerows to hunt,
no large farmyards and rich granaries, and though it does get some mice
it has to take lizards, an occasional small bird, and sometimes fish, or
even scraps of carrion.

Of all the owls this has the softest, most silent flight, and this in
itself is somewhat uncanny as it quite quietly passes close to you, and
then disappears in the gloom, from which a little later may come a
terrifying screech as of a strangled infant. There is little room for
wonder, then, that all simple folk should have regarded this bird as
evil-omened: and the old Scriptures have many references in this spirit
when describing places haunted, desolated, the "abode of owls and
dragons." To this day, in our own country, the feeling is evinced most
strangely in spite of all our modern education. Very cleverly the early
Egyptians caught the most salient feature--the extraordinary large
mask-like face--and in some of the wall decorations at Deir-el-Bahari,
which are in perfect preservation, it would be well-nigh impossible to
improve on them as exact portraits of the Barn Owl. A possible cause of
the choice of this bird is that it is one of the best-known species: for
of all the owls this one is quite peculiar in its habit of rather
courting than flying from the haunts of man; for though it is in the
ruins of temples it is also to be found in the thick foliage near
villages and towns, and has even been noticed flying about in the very
heart of Cairo in the Ezbekeir Gardens, as recorded by Mr. J. H. Gurney
in his _Rambles of a Naturalist_--and the habit of attaching itself to
human habitations is universal wherever it is met the world round.

The Barn Owl has a custom which those who suffer from indigestion may
well envy, and that is its power of disgorging, after every meal, all
the indigestible portions of its dinner in a compact, round, hard
pellet, about the size of a nut: and from under some of its
roosting-places great basketsfull of these pellets have been collected,
and men of science analyzing these have obtained therefrom the most
precise information as to the diet of this much-persecuted bird. From
such observations the value of its services in our own country were
rather tardily recognised. But now that it is established that
nine-tenths of its food consists of mice and rats, the law of the land
has been invoked to protect it. Lord Lilford writes on the extraordinary
appetite of young owls, that "I have seen a young Barn Owl take down
nine full-grown mice one after another till the tail of the ninth stuck
out of his mouth, and in three hours' time the young 'gourmand' was
crying out for more."

[Illustration: FIG. 6.

_From Deir-el-Bahari._]


Carine meridionalis

     Plumage--A plain greyish-brown with dark markings and spots on the
     breast; eyes yellow. Entire length, 8·5 inches.

The Little Owl is a common bird, but it is not, when flying, very
owl-like in appearance; and doubtless it is very often seen and not
recognised as an owl at all, especially as it flies freely in the
daytime, and I have even seen it sitting facing the sun on some wooden
trellis-work in a garden at mid-day; and not only once, but morning
after morning it could be seen enjoying the warmth. This peculiarity,
the very opposite of what we find in most owls, has led to an awkward
position in some parts of England--for in certain of the Midland
counties this owl is rapidly becoming a perfect scourge. Some
distinguished naturalists in Northamptonshire and other counties thought
it would be good to introduce this undoubtedly rather fascinating bird
from the Continent--where it is common--into the British Isles--where it
was very rare--so year after year


they obtained large numbers of these owls, and liberated them in
the hope that they would breed and multiply. Their hopes have been more
than justified, for they did at once settle down and increase; they
passed first from the county they were liberated in to the adjoining
county of Huntingdon; then, spreading over that, they extended their
area into Cambridgeshire, then on into Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk. Every
one was at first delighted, and keepers were given strict injunctions on
no account to worry the newcomers; but gradually the keepers' faces
began to get long, and first one and then another reported strange
stories of depleted coops shortly after the foster-hen was put out into
the open with her family of ten or more young birds. Ornithologists were
scandalised at these stories--an owl take a young game-bird:
impossible!--but what is impossible in the eyes of men of science has
turned out to be a fact, and this charming-looking Little Owl is found
to be one of the worst vermin on the whole list which vexes the soul of
the game preserver. For it is just this, that at the very time the young
pheasants or hand-reared partridges are put out, the Little Owl has its
own little family to feed; the foster-mother, the hen, being always
kept shut in the coop, the little puff-balls of pheasants, as they are
in those early days, run in and out between the bars, and once outside
are, of course, without protection. The Owl has noticed this fact, and
it may be seen sitting on the top of the coop watching till one of the
little birds is conveniently near, and down it swoops and carries it
away for its own family's dinner; this it will repeat time after time
till it has cleared off the whole lot. This can only happen, of course,
when the young pheasants are very very small--a few days old--and
hand-reared, for if they were out and about with their own mother--or in
the case of partridges their own father--they would be safe, as neither
would allow such an impudent attack to be made without going for the
murderous marauder. It has only been after years and years of persistent
effort that gamekeepers have been induced to learn that all ordinary
owls flying at night-time--when all young birds are safe under their
mothers' wings--are harmless, and that from the good they do in clearing
off hundreds of mice and young rats, should be, and must be, protected.
They are now protected; but this newcomer arrives--not an ordinary night
owl at all--and the whole position is changed, and years of teaching
will be thrown to the winds, as it will be hard indeed to persuade the
average thick-headed keeper that he was not right all along, and that
every owl of every sort ought to be shot at sight and nailed to the
pole. So much for benevolent intentions of increasing the variety of a
country's fauna. Nearly always it is best not to interfere with Nature's
order, and the rabbit pest in Australia, and the sparrows in America,
are already known to most as illustrations of this fact.

The Little Owl makes a quaint pet, and thrives well in confinement; its
antics and poses are really droll, and the big eyes look at you with a
seeming deep intelligence. This is the owl, by the way, that by the
ancient Greeks, was made sacred to Pallas Athene and used as a symbol of
wisdom; furthermore, it was engraved on many of their coins.

In Egypt it is everywhere--in town and country, in ruined temples,
dismal tombs, and gardens bright with flowers and sunshine. I have seen
it sitting on the upright poles of shadoofs, and on the tops of high
stalks of growing maize, and once I saw it, in broad daylight, on the
back of a recumbent buffalo.


Bubo ascalaphus

Arabic, _Buma_

     Plumage a rich buff-brown, with darker markings of black, brown,
     and grey. Large wing-feathers and tail broadly barred with blackish
     brown; chin and upper throat white; under-plumage bright golden
     buff, with blotches and streaks on the flanks; beak black; eyes of
     most intense flame-like orange. Total length, 20 inches.

This name Eagle Owl is almost more imposing than the bird itself, as,
though large, it is much smaller than the Eagle Owl of Europe.

It is to be found in some of the very largest of the temples, ruined or
otherwise, but, as far as my own knowledge goes, not in many of the
smaller buildings. Its principal haunts are the steep cliff-like sides
of the hills and mountains.

When staying in the Valley of the Tombs of the Kings, every night
regularly as the sun sank behind the ridge, the first weird "Booom" rang
out, soon to be answered by another similar call from another part of
the hills, and then, soon and silently, there floated past the big dull
brown form. Sailing away to the opposite side, with my glasses

[Illustration: EGYPTIAN EAGLE OWL]

I could see it stretch out its legs forward as it settled on to
some favourite ledge of rock, and turning its great head round, so that
I could see its glorious coloured eyes, would utter a still louder
booming challenge. This was so absolutely regular that when working I
knew exactly where certain purple-blue shadows would be across the face
of the otherwise golden cliff-side, when I heard its first call. Twice I
had one in captivity; one died, but the other seemed to recover so well
from a damaged wing, that as soon as I had finished the studies needed,
I decided to let it go free, and let it out; but, stupefied by
confinement, or else because the wing was not really strong enough to
make flight easy, it only hopped and walked about in a rather aimless
way, and was in danger of being attacked by the dogs of our camp. So I
had to catch, and in my arms carry my captive right high up the
Deir-el-Bahari cliffs--and any that have been there know what that
means--and at a safe place near a cleft I had often seen them at, set it
free; neither then, nor during my toil up that cliff was I rewarded by
the slightest sign of gratitude; on the contrary, hissing viciously and
clawing right and left with its big talons, intent on doing me serious
damage, my prisoner strove with me. That was in the evening; very early
the next day I went right up the same place, and as there were no
feathers or other marks of murder, I sincerely hope the poor bird got
safely away to some sheltering cave, there to be welcomed by wife or
husband, as the case might be, and regaled with great store of such food
as Eagle Owls love. When with me, sardines, scraps of meat, and bits of
bony chicken were readily eaten, but a great dislike was shown to being
watched at meals.


Upupa epops

Arabic, _Hud Hud_

     Head and crest rich rusty orange; the tips of feathers of crest
     black; the neck and chest rufous changing to a pink hue on breast;
     wings and tail black with broad white parallel bars; under-parts
     buff to white; legs brown; beak black; eyes brown. Length, 12

The hoop-hoop-hoop cry of this bird is almost as curiously attractive as
its varied plumage and magnificent crest. You see it everywhere, and it
loves the haunts of man. It is not well to know too much of one's
heroes, and it certainly is well not to know too much of the habits of
some of the wild children of the earth and air. The repulsiveness of the
menu of the Hoopoe is enough to make one put one's pen through its name
and never mention it. But it is not always feeding, and when walking
about in stately fashion on some mud wall, lifting its great circular
crown of feathers ever and again, whilst it utters its call-name
hoop-hoop-hoopoe, it is so picturesque and charming one has to pass its
nasty little peculiarities by. We have to do this frequently with our
own unfeathered friends for the good we presume they possess, and there
is much that is good in this perky little bird.

Time was, it is said, when the Hoopoe had no crest, and he only got one
granted by royal favour. The king of those days was importing a new
bride from Asia, and decided to have her met at the port on the Red Sea
where she landed, with unusual pomp. His army was to go down and escort
her to the royal city, and all the birds of the air were instructed also
to wait her arrival and form a flying sunshade with their wings, and fan
the air with their pinions, whilst all should fill the heavens with
their sweet songs--and thus she should come. The birds agreed, all but
the Hoopoe. He objected, he knew something about the lady, and he
wouldn't consent to go. Saying he would rather not, he flew away to a
cave in some far-away mountain in the desert. When the king heard of
this he was very wroth. Anyhow, he had the culprit sent for, and now the
poor Hoopoe is brought before his enraged majesty, but so bravely did he
comport himself, and so well did he defend his position, showing that if
he did that for which he had conscientious objections, he would suffer
grave moral and intellectual damage, and therefore it was with all
respect he begged to be excused. His Majesty was so amazed

[Illustration: HOOPOE

On the house-tops.]

with his bravery and intelligence that he took from off his own
head the royal crown and placed it on the Hoopoe's, saying, truly thou
art a very king amongst birds, and shall for ever be crowned. To show
the truth of this story, it is only necessary to come to Egypt, when the
most sceptical will be at once converted, as he will see that every
single Hoopoe to this day is indeed right royally crowned as no other
bird is.[3]

 [3] A variation of this story is given by the Hon. Robert Curzon, in
 his _Visits to Monasteries in the Levant_. There the Hoopoe was told
 by the king to go home and consult his spouse, as to what should be
 the royal gift, and she, like a true feminine, on being questioned,
 said, "Let us ask for crowns of gold on our heads, that we may be
 superior to all other birds." The request was granted, but the king
 forewarned them that they would see the folly of their request; and
 all Hoopoes of both sexes strutted about with solid gold crowns, and
 "the queen of the Hoopoes gave herself airs, and sat upon a twig, and
 refused to speak to the Merops, her cousin" (bee-eater), but a certain
 fowler, who set traps and nets for birds, put a broken mirror into
 his traps. The queen of course went to look into it to the better
 see herself and her golden crown, and got caught. The value of these
 solid gold crowns soon led to every man's hand being against the vain
 Hoopoes. "Not a Hoopoe could show its head, but it was slain or taken
 captive, and the days of the Hoopoes were numbered; then their minds
 were filled with sorrow and dismay." The king of the Hoopoes went back
 to the monarch and related their piteous plight, and Solomon said,
 "Behold, did I not warn thee of thy folly, in desiring to have crowns
 of gold? Vanity and pride have been thy ruin. But now, that a memorial
 may remain of the service which thou didst render unto me, your crowns
 of gold shall be changed into crowns of feathers, that ye may walk
 unharmed upon the earth."

The Cairo Zoological Gardens report it as "a fairly numerous visitor in
spring and autumn" to the gardens, and of course most know that it is a
casual visitor to the British Isles; but there it is at once shot, as
soon as seen, and is then mounted by the local taxidermist. Few
collections of stuffed birds, however modest, are without examples of
British-killed Hoopoes. That it will ever therefore become common with
us is impossible, but that it might be a regular visitor is certain,
for, as long as there have been any records kept, its appearance in the
summer has been noted, and no farther than the Continent it is a regular
and honoured visitor. The last Hoopoe I saw in Egypt was on April 6, on
Lake Menzaleh; it rose from a mere scrap of an island all soft sand, and
headed to the dunes that separate the lake from the Mediterranean, and
the last I saw of it, was it still flying with its head pointed to
European shores.


Alcedo ispida

     General plumage a metallic blue; the under parts, lores, and ear
     coverts are bright chestnut; throat, white; the top of the head is
     a greenish turquoise with darker markings; the back is a brilliant
     cobalt blue shading into darker ultramarine blue on rump and tail;
     legs, red; eyes, brown. Length 7 inches, but individuals vary much.

In Egypt this bird is common, and would be commoner if it were not in
some parts relentlessly pursued for its brilliant plumes. When at
Matariya on Lake Menzaleh I heard that the regular price was a half
piastre (or a penny farthing) per skin, and that at that price hundreds
were obtained. As we at home are not entirely blameless on this point
much must not be said, but it is nevertheless to be regretted, as its
brilliant plumage is such a valuable addition to the frequently
colourless river scenery. Wherever there is water both in Upper and
Lower Egypt this bird will be met with, and in the Luxor district it is
really common. It is a bird that loves some particular spot, and clings
to some one reach or another, so that where once seen it is highly
probable to be seen again. It is said to breed in Egypt, and probably
does in localities suited to it.

The food is chiefly fish, and it has often been noted that it swallows
such prey, after one or two preparatory blows, head foremost. In flight
it hardly seems to move its wings, or they are moved so quickly that the
eye does not catch the movement, it seems to pass along smoothly,
literally like an arrow. This bird, like so many bright plumaged ones,
is no songster, and has only a sort of shrill call note. Both male and
female are alike in plumage, but the female has more red on the lower

There is one other Kingfisher that may be met with, the Little Indian
Kingfisher, very similar in plumage to the last, but it is a smaller
bird and its bill is longer. I do not think I have ever seen it, though
I know those who say they have noticed it several times on the rushing
water in the Assoan district.



Ceryle rudis

     The whole plumage black and white; feathers on top of head form
     crest; under surface white. In the male two dark bands cross the
     upper breast, in the female only one; both have some thin
     lance-shaped black markings on the sides; beak and legs black; eyes
     brown. Length, 11·5 inches.

This is a bird few know till they have been up the Nile; but when they
have, they know it well, for it is not at all of a retiring nature, but
boldly shows itself, and is very fond of sitting in conspicuous places,
on the tops of poles, or on the dahabeah chains. Many seem to find it
difficult to understand this is a Kingfisher, since they have a
preconceived idea that Kingfishers must all necessarily be
bright-plumaged birds, like the preceding species; but the Kingfishers
are a very large family, and very various in size and colour. The
Australian "Laughing Jackass" is a Kingfisher, and there are many others
that possess no very special brilliance of plumage.

This Black and White Kingfisher is a true resident in Egypt, and just
about the time we all leave for our homes it sets to work to make one,
and digs out a hole in the soft sides of the Nile bank. In some cases it
burrows back two to three feet before it widens out the chamber in which
the nest is made. I do not know that the bird is in any way persecuted,
but it is not beloved of the people, as they accuse it of eating too
many of their young fish. Visitors who do not like their muddy Nile fish
do not see any great offence in this, but I can quite see the matter
from the native's point of view, and am a little astonished that it has
been allowed to increase and multiply as it has. Last year, each
evening, something like thirty used to roost on the chain cable of Mr.
Davis's dahabeah, moored just opposite Luxor. Where they all came from
was something of a mystery, as, though you would see one now and again
on that reach of river, you would never be able to see anything like
that number; yet every evening in they used to come, and after a rather
excited noisy discussion settled down to roost for the night.

A most interesting thing in this bird is its singular habit of hanging
in mid-air, above the water, on the look-out for fish. Although I have
said fish, it is certain it must take other creatures than fish, for I
have often seen it, not


only hovering over the Sacred Lake at Karnak, but also plunging
head foremost down into its waters, and securing some food or other,
with which it has at once flown away to some convenient perch and there
swallowed it. Now there are no fish in the Karnak Lake, and it is clear
that what the Kingfisher goes for must be some variety of its ordinary
fishy food, and must be some larvæ or fine fat water-beetle. When
hanging thus in mid-air it reminds me a little of our own Windhover or
Kestrel, in its quick clapping stroke of wings, whilst its body and tail
hang nearly perpendicularly down, till it sees what it wants; then the
position of its body alters in a flash, and down it plunges, and is lost
for a moment in the splash and spray that it raises by the impact with
the water.


Merops viridis

     The plumage throughout is green, with a black eye-stripe and a
     black marking in front on chest; legs brown, beak black, eyes
     crimson, two centre tail-feathers very elongated. Total length, 11

There are three species of Bee-eaters, but this, the Little Green
Bee-eater, is chosen because it is resident, and because it must be seen
by every one in Upper Egypt. The other two species are both birds of
passage through Egypt, and are seldom seen or heard till April or May,
when most people have left. This bird is well called the Green Bee-eater
since it is green right over every part of its upper plumage, but owing
to the shading of parts not in the full light of the sun it often
appears as if its head were of burnished gold, and again when it flies,
if the light be at all behind it, the transparent outstretched wings
look a brilliant orange owing to the under-sides being of that rich warm
colour. In habits it will remind any observer of our Fly-catchers at
home, for it sits rather humped up on a dead twig, wall, or post till,
suddenly observing some passing bee or fly, it


swoops down on its prey and then back again to its perch to enjoy
its food. This it will continue to do by the hour together, till, first
stretching out one wing and leg, and then the other, it decides to set
out for pastures new, and with an easy, long, sweeping flight, rising
and then falling, it disappears from view. It is a very tame little
bird, and is met with literally everywhere; but it is undoubtedly most
fond of the wells with a few trees growing round them, or the gardens or
palm-groves. I do not remember to have seen one actually on the ground,
in which matter it is similar to all very short-legged birds, and its
legs are very short.

It is a melancholy fact to have to record that it is far too often shot
by visitors; and worse, sometimes now native boys catch it for the
delectation of tourists, and, tying a bit of string round its legs, hold
it as if it were perching naturally on their hands. They then offer it
to tourists as a tame, pet bird, and I fear the tourist too often buys
of them, for otherwise these utterly mercenary little rascals would not
indulge in this traffic. Needless to say the poor bird always
dies--indeed, is more often than not half-dead when in the boy's hand,
as its half-glazed eye only too plainly shows. One hardly knows how to
cure this cruelty, for the humane nearly always rebuke the boy, give him
a piastre or two, and liberate the bird, and pass on thinking they have
done a good deed. The bird can only flutter feebly away, and the boy of
course re-catches it and goes through the same performance with the next
kind-hearted, foolish visitor. It is with regret I write it, but I do
not in the least now believe in the Egyptian's love for birds, or
anything other than backsheesh. Why the birds are or were so universally
tame is not because of their kindliness, but simply because of their
apathy. The moment it dawns on them that there is anything to be made
out of birds or any other lovely thing they are as brutal as the very
worst British hooligan.

I have sometimes seen Bee-eaters in the ruins and temples, and in this
connection it is interesting to recall that there is a very good
representation of one flying, in the celebrated series of pictures of
the expedition to Punt at Deir-el-Bahari, the only case I can remember
of a Bee-eater being so represented. It is entirely insectivorous, and
is one of the many birds which ought, in this insect-infested country,
to be strictly preserved, for it is appalling to think what an
unbearable land this would be for us thin-skinned people if the teeming
clouds of flies and mosquitoes were not held in some check by these
industrious birds, which are all day long steadily trying to reduce
their numbers.

       *       *       *       *       *

By modern naturalists the Common Swift is not placed along with the
Swallow, but comes near the Bee-eaters and Nightjars, and I therefore
place my notes on this bird at this point.

When I arrived early in October 1907 at Deir-el-Bahari, I saw thousands
upon thousands of Swifts flying round in never-ending circles, and all,
as far as I was able to identify them, the same Swift that goes
shrieking its weird song down every town and village in rural England.
Night after night, in the wonderful glow that follows the actual sunset,
I used to go to the top of the great cliffs that overhang Queen
Hatashu's temple, where round me raced here, there, and everywhere,
these great clouds of birds, sometimes so near me, as I sat quietly
hidden in a niche of the rocks, that I could easily have knocked them
down with a stick; whilst others were high, high up, circling round.
Every now and then so close they came, shrilly shrieking and screaming,
one after another, in follow-my-leader fashion, that I felt the cool
fanning of the air from their beating wings. In the early morning they
were out again, but during the middle of the day they were rarely if
ever to be seen. By the end of November there were but few, and when I
returned after Christmas there was hardly one to be seen. About the
middle of January I saw flocks of them again at Karnak, which is only
just on the other side of the river.

Shelley seems to speak of the Common Swift as rare, and he is most
probably right, but I have no doubt whatever of the identity of those I
saw in the neighbourhood of Thebes at that particular time. The Swift
that really breeds here is the Pale Swift, which, instead of being
almost black all over like the Common Swift, has a more or less uniform
greyish-brown plumage, and is considerably smaller; Shelley says two

In the report of the Giza Zoological Society on the wild birds that have
been observed in the gardens, both species of Swifts are noticed as
having occurred there, and it is probable that both kinds are spread
over the whole of Egypt. Why it is not generally noticed is because, as
has been said, it flies out rather late, and keeps to great heights,
never within my own experience flying as at home a foot or so above the

The Pale Swift I have often seen, and so close to me that the main
difference in plumage to the Common Swift has been definitely noted. I
myself have never heard it make the wild shrieking note our own bird
makes, but then I have only seen it in the mid-winter months.


  Hirundo rustica                           Hirundo savignii

  _European Common Chimney Swallow_      _Egyptian_

     Upper plumage from forehead to tail, deep metallic steel
     blue-black; forehead and throat, rich red-brown; a band of the blue
     borders the red on throat; underparts creamy-white; beak very short
     and black; eyes, dark brown. Length, 8 inches.

The above description is of the Common or Chimney Swallow, and if for
the creamy-white underparts, you read red-brown underparts, length 7
inches, you have an accurate description of the Egyptian or Oriental
Chimney Swallow. As the Egyptian Swallow and our own Common Swallow are
so similar in appearance and habits, both are dealt with in this
article. With so little difference between the two species, it is not
strange that persons seem to find it hard to distinguish the one from
the other; but really, if one watches at all carefully, he will soon
note if the individual bird has the creamy-white underparts or no, as it
is seldom that any swallow flies long without that sideway swerve which
shows the wing lifted free above the body. The first date I have noted


seeing the Common Swallow was February 1, 1908, at the Mût Lake,
Karnak; but I have no doubt that at some parts up or down the river they
can be seen all the winter through. After February, day by day, the
great hosts of them, all flying with earnest intent due north, makes one
of the most interesting sights to English eyes in all Egypt, as one can
well believe that some of those very birds will be the first to greet
one on his return home in April or May. I have often seen them hawking
about over the waters of some small insect-haunted pool in friendly
company with their Oriental cousins, and have always marvelled at their
leaving a land with its constant sun and amazing wealth of flies and
insects, for our own comparatively inclement clime and poor food-supply.
In a room I slept in, at the hut at Deir-el-Bahari, there was a
swallow's nest just over my bed, and though it was too early when I was
there in January for them to start breeding, on several occasions the
Egyptian Swallows came fluttering in through the unglazed windows, just
to take a look round and see that all was right for later on. On
February 14 I saw two, which were clearly mated birds, on the ground,
picking up scraps of twigs and straw, and then rapidly fly away. In a
few minutes both were back again, and one seemed to be taking mud,
whilst the other kept searching for just the right-sized bit of dry
grass or straw; it took up many bits, but they did not seem to satisfy
the requirements and were dropped, till just the right-sized piece was
forthcoming. So it is clear they must start nesting very early, and
pretty certainly will have, as our British bird does, two broods in the
season. There is practically little or no difference in the habits of
either of these two Swallows--the one might be the other--and though I
have watched them long and carefully, I am unable to recall any single
peculiarity that our Swallow has from the Egyptian. Both alike have that
habit of dipping momentarily into the water, then rising for a short
distance, and again fluttering down on to the surface with a slight
splash, and both kinds seem to have boundless energy and strength,
tearing up and down incessantly by the hour together. So many birds rest
in flight by making long sweeping curves with rigidly outstretched
wings. Kites and Vultures are great exponents of this power, but the
Swallows, though they can do it of course, are nearly all the day
careering in headlong flight with restless energy, and the

[Illustration: PALE CRAG SWALLOW]

long journey they take in migration is probably, under fair climatic
conditions, nothing at all formidable to them. If, however, they get
caught in some storm or blizzard-like gale, it is an altogether
different matter, and there are many records of the Mediterranean coast
being littered with hundreds of dead bodies of the Swallows that have
succumbed and fallen helplessly into the sea. Watching them flying about
the river, or above the growing crops, one finds it difficult to picture
a more perfectly happy existence--food in abundance, sunshine all day
long, and a kindly welcome at roosting time in every house or rough
mud-hut--and cheery and grateful it seems for it all, if one may judge
by its lively twittering song. No wonder every country has made a
special favourite of the Swallow. It is entirely insectivorous, and, as
has been said of several other birds, the use that they are in this land
of plagues of flies is enormous.

Swallows' nests, as is well known, are generally placed on some
horizontal beam or masonry. Martin's nests are placed on the
perpendicular sides of buildings, and by choice close under the eaves of
our broad-roofed houses. Both are built of mud, and the mud is very
generally obtained from roadsides or by the river's edge, but if any of
my readers will endeavour to build up a nest with such mud against an
upright wall, they will attempt an all but impossible task, for as the
curve begins to grow outwards it will with its own weight fall away from
the wall. What is it, then, that the Swallows and Martins do to make
their nests adhere? If you examine an old last year's nest and try and
break the outer shell, you will find it very tough considering the
material it is made of, and the toughening matter is a secretion of
saliva. In the case of some species of Swallows this secretion is so
great that the whole of the nest is made of that substance alone, with
the lining of a few feathers. And it is this nest, cleaned of all
foreign matter which is the base of the much-esteemed delicacy known as
birdnest soup. Few who have partaken of this luxury are perhaps aware
that it is simply solidified saliva.

Of Martins there are two--the House-Martin and the Sand-Martin, both
birds common to Great Britain. Of the latter, literally thousands and
thousands will be seen nesting in colonies in the mud banks by all who
go up and down the river; restless and cheerful, they are one of the
welcome sights of the Nile trip, and often for miles at a stretch the
whole banks are honeycombed with their nesting holes, and ever and
again, moved by some common impulse, hundreds come rushing out and over
the boat with noisy twitterings, and then scattering, gradually return
in ones and twos to their homes again.


Motacilla alba

     Crown of head and nape dark grey or black, upper plumage delicate
     grey, wings brownish, some of the feathers edged with white; tail
     dark-brownish, two outer feathers on each side white; forehead,
     most of the cheek and under-parts white, black collar, legs and
     bill black, eyes brown. Length, 7 inches.

I have pictured this particular Wagtail as it is perhaps the commonest
of all, but there are several other kinds that at certain seasons might
dispute the point and run it very close. It is very similar,
superficially, to the familiar Pied Wagtail, but is greyer, less
positively black and white, and might well be called the Grey rather
than the White Wagtail. In the winter months, in Egypt, at whatever part
of the country, north or south, you may be, you will see Wagtails of
some sort or another busily chasing flies with ever-restless activity,
and the numbers that there must be of this most useful bird is past all
computation. Wagtails are peculiar in that they are about the smallest
birds that really walk and run. All other

[Illustration: WHITE WAGTAIL]

small birds--finches, warblers, and the rest--move by hopping; but
Wagtails all run, and hardly ever make any semblance of a hop unless the
sudden bound into the air after some passing fly be called a hop. No
bird is neater or more graceful in line than this, and I am sadly
conscious of how little of its real beauty the drawing gives; the
daintiness with which it does everything is singularly beautiful. Though
many pass the winter in Egypt some must go farther south, as when the
time comes for their return to their northern breeding-places in
February and March there is a notable increase in their numbers, and I
remember one particular evening in March when the whole cultivated
ground round the Ramaseum, Thebes, was literally covered with them, and
as darkness came on even more seemed to be dropping in on every side.
The next day, when I went to the same place, the bulk had already gone,
and there were hardly more than you could see at any time.

The Yellow Wagtail is a smaller bird than the White. Ornithologists
record no less than three species as found in Egypt, all having yellow
breasts. The Grey-headed Yellow Wagtail is the one most abundant, and
for beauty is unsurpassed. Its tail is notably shorter than in other
Wagtails, and from my own observation I should say it is a more timid
little bird than others of its kindred.


Galerita cristata

     All upper plumage brown; the large feathers of wings and tail edged
     with a lighter buffish tone; crest of narrow dark-brown feathers
     with light edges; back of crest, as one sees under it when raised,
     tells very rich dark brown; underparts white spotted and streaked
     on breast with dark brown. Length, 6·7 inches.

For once the name does really describe the bird, so that none may be in
any doubt whatever. For the crest is the one thing noticed. I have drawn
one with a fine crest, but have been afraid to make it as big as I have
in one or two cases seen it. Early in February I saw some that I really
think had the crest a full eighth of an inch higher than my drawing
shows. In each case they were undoubtedly showing off to their
lady-love. The crest can be, and often is, raised at an absolute right
angle as to a line horizontal with the beak. The bird is so tame that
frequently it sits on the path so that you fear your donkey will tread
on it, and so common that no one, however unobservant, but must notice
it; it is particularly in evidence on the great Thebes plain across
which all go to the Tombs of the Kings. Its song, as far as I have
heard it, is distinctly pleasant; Captain Shelley calls it "but an
indifferent song," which is severe, as it is a happy little rippling
series of true lark-like notes. It has a good mixed diet, animal and
vegetable, hard grain and soft blade of growing things. When the weather
begins to get warm you will often see this lark, as you may many other
birds, sitting with its mouth open as if gasping for breath; that this
is a sign they do feel the heat is certain, but I do not think that it
shows they are suffering from thirst, for in the cultivation they always
have water all round them in the little canals that run everywhere
through the crops, and if they were thirsty they could very soon quench
it. When on Lake Menzaleh, just on the very limit of Egyptian soil and
Mediterranean Sea, I came across many taking a last rest on the
sandbanks before migrating, and was very struck with their altered
bearing. They were shy and timid, never allowed a close inspection, and
flew away in hurried fashion. This was in the early weeks of April.

[Illustration: CRESTED LARK]


Saxicola leucopygia

     General plumage, black with slae-blue reflections; rump, white;
     tail, black; outside feathers, white; beak and legs, black; eyes,
     brown. Length varying from 6-1/2 to 7 inches.

I confess to finding the Chats a puzzling order of birds to identify
when seen in the open. In the case of some, not only is the female
larger, but of such a different aspect and dull sandy colour that it is
really difficult to believe that it is in any way related to the
startlingly plumaged black and white male bird. All the Chats love the
desert more than the cultivated ground, and I myself have never seen
this Chat save on rocks or sand. The visitor going to the Tombs of the
Kings at Thebes, or around the Pyramids, should certainly see this bird,
as it is there common, and owing to its way of flitting sharply from one
point to another, and sitting high up on the top of some boulder, with
its strongly contrasted black and white plumage, is always a very
conspicuous object. What it gets to live on in these desert places is
hard to see, but it does manage to pick up a living on grass or other
seeds and small insects.

Two other Chats very closely related are the Hooded Chat and the
Mourning Chat. The former is very similarly marked on the body, but has
a white top or hood on its head, whilst the latter has the top of its
head a delicate dull grey, and a buffish tone over the under


Saxicola moesta

     Black on sides of face; wings, a blackish brown with lighter
     margins; under parts a warm white gradating into a pinkish rufous
     as it nears tail; tail, dark at end, white at base; eyes, brown.
     Length, 6·2 inches.

This is not so common a bird as the preceding, but still if a sharp
look-out be kept it ought to be seen. It inhabits the desert, but I have
twice seen it on the edge of cultivation, and the particular bird I made
my drawing from got up from stubble just by the river-side. Both this
bird and the White-rumped are closely related to our own Wheatear on one
side and to our Stone-chat on the other. All these birds are alike in
the continued restlessness


of their movements, and their habit of flying on in advance as one
approaches, and then settling again on some prominent point till a
nearer approach sends it on again with a flick of its tail till it finds
another suitable perching spot. In the most out-of-the-way desolate
places, where not one blade of vegetation shows itself, and all is
yellow sand and hard grey rock baking in the sun, there you will as
likely as not find Chats of one kind or another, the only living thing,
seemingly, in this great dreary expanse; the dreariness never, however,
seems to affect them. No one has ever seen a Chat in low spirits; it is
always happy and lively, a very Mark Tapley amongst birds.


Cyanecula suecica

     Plumage of back and top of head dull grey-brown; a light buff
     stripe above eye; throat and breast brilliant cobalt-blue, with a
     white spot at the top of breast, a bright rufous bar edges the blue
     on the lower breast, this red bar sometimes being separated from
     the blue by a thin white stripe; under-parts white. The hen bird is
     a dull edition of the above, with a buffish-coloured throat, and
     more black than blue showing on the breast; legs, beak, and eyes
     brown. Total length, 5·5 inches.

This is a common bird throughout Egypt, where it winters. It is related
to our common Robin, to which it bears some resemblance; but it is
rather longer in shape and higher on the leg than the Redbreast.

The Bluethroat is well named, and having once seen this charming little
warbler, it is by its blue throat it will be remembered. The first time
I came across this bird was long ago; but I remember, as if it were
to-day, my delight when the little bird, which had been flitting
about--now on the ground, now in the lower branches and twigs of a bushy
osier--turned so that I saw


its brilliant ultramarine-blue gorget fringed with a rust-red
band. It had been for some minutes feeding and moving about in the bush
and on the ground, and yet, during the whole of that time, it had never
once turned right head on, and that which was my first experience is,
one finds, a quite usual peculiarity. It always seems to give you a back
view, and from that view you might be justified in thinking it was a
Redstart, as it has the same habit of flitting its tail up and down, and
showing the very orange-red under-parts. Whether it was an accidental
visitation I do not know, but early in the year 1908 the gardens of the
old Luxor Hotel were full of Bluethroats--as soon, pretty well, as you
passed one you came on another. The little water-channels running about
these well-kept grounds seemed to be the point of attraction, as they
were busily hopping about and sometimes into them, and splashing
merrily--hardly serious washing, but a sort of childlike abandon of
pleasure in pleasant surroundings; but even with so many visible, and
seen under such familiar conditions, it was astonishing how seldom any
gave one a front face view. There is a point of great interest in the
two races of Bluethroat, one having a red, the other a white spot on the
blue shield: and this because the red-spotted species goes for its
breeding quarters to the most northern parts of Scandinavia, whilst its
white-spotted cousin goes no farther north than Germany. And we are told
that in spite of Germany's numerous and well-instructed ornithologists
no case has been observed of the red-spotted form ever having stopped in
its transit from Africa, although it must pass right over the country,
till it reaches its nearly Arctic home. This seems to show that this
delicately built, tender little bird probably makes its journey by
night, and so high up that it escapes all observation; and when you
consider the vast distance from Egypt's shores to the far-away mosses of
Scandinavia, it is about as marvellous a journey without a halt as one
can conceive of. Flies, insects, caterpillars, and, when it can get it,
fruit of any kind, form its diet.

The Bluethroat is on the list of British birds, but is one more case of
a bird being so included that really hardly should be, for it is but an
accidental visitor; probably it never meant to come to Britain and only
got there by mistake, when it is generally shot at sight. It is
particularly upright in its carriage and sprightly in its movements; so
quick that eyes unaccustomed to observing birds find it difficult to
see it at all, as with a series of running hops it darts under the shade
of overhanging bush or shrub. In the winter months it hardly utters more
than a simple call-note, but as spring approaches it breaks into song,
and at the end of March I have several times heard it singing most
enchantingly. It seems to sing when on the ground, and not when perched
amongst the bushy undergrowth; and I remember watching one, singing as
lustily as any nightingale, as it stood on a bare bit of stony, sandy
soil, bordering a little pool, fully exposed to view, while I sat
quietly not three yards away.


Acrocephalus streperus

     General plumage a greyish brown; a warmer brown on the wings, and
     brighter brown on rump; under parts a delicate white, shading into
     buff on the flanks and under tail coverts; a faint light stripe
     above eye; legs and beak, brown; eyes, hazel brown. Length, 5-1/4

The song of any bird is one of the most certain methods, when really
known, of identification. In the case of Warblers and other small birds
that flit about rapidly, and always half-sheltered by vegetation, it is
often exceedingly difficult to get a near and clear view, and very hard
to know exactly to what species it belongs. This is particularly the
case with the Reed and the Sedge Warblers; they stick so close to their
beloved shelter that you rarely get a complete view of them, but if you
will wait quietly and patiently you are sure to hear them burst out into
a shorter or longer song--then is your chance--and if you have the very
slightest sense of music, you will catch the notes peculiar to that bird
and that bird alone. The Reed Warbler's song is very peculiar; it is a
running trill of notes given out exceedingly quickly, and in

[Illustration: REED WARBLER]

an exceedingly loud, noisy, boisterous voice, as if the bird were
in the highest possible spirits. Very unlike that of many of the
singers; the Nightingale, for instance, to every one sounds sad,
plaintive, beautiful, but distinctly not cheerful. I have heard the Reed
Warbler very often at many points on the Nile where there were no reed
beds, but only stunted tamarisk or other shrubs, but in the great reed
beds on and outside Lake Menzaleh I have both seen and heard it in great
numbers, and the quite extraordinary penetrating noise that a number
make when together is most remarkable. It is a most charming active
little bird, a perfect acrobat, and it sings as blithely upside down as
it does right side up. But the most attractive thing about its
life-history is its nest; this it builds in the very heart of some thick
clump of reeds. The accompanying picture shows how when the wind blows
the cradle does rock; but it matters not how much it rocks, the wise
bird builds the nest so deep that the eggs lying snug at the bottom
never get tilted out. In Egypt the bird is, like the bulk of visitors,
but a winter migrant. As it is insectivorous it is of some use in
keeping down the host of flies great and small, and it is said to be
partial to mosquitoes, which should make every one look with favour on
this cheery little songster. I often think it is a mercy that
practically all the song birds are small, for consider what it would
mean if the large birds made noise in the same proportion to their size
that the Reed Warbler does to his,--the world would be a veritable


Passer domesticus

     Top of head a bluish-grey, margined with deep chestnut band over
     the eye and ear-coverts; black chin and collar; a white spot behind
     the eye; under-parts a silvery grey; wing chestnut with black
     spots, with a white bar across it; tail-feathers brown with lighter
     edges; eyes hazel; legs and beak pale brown. Entire length, 5·5

Mr. M. J. Nicoll thinks that the Egyptian Sparrow is a separate local
variety, being always lighter and brighter coloured on the back.
Sparrows here, as elsewhere, distinctly follow man. Where no men are,
you will find no Sparrows. Get only half a mile into the sandy plain
that fringes the cultivation and you will look in vain, or go up the
steep hills, and you may walk for miles and miles and never see one. But
if you come across some of the old-time caravan roads, or a place where
there has been an encampment, then, however wild the surroundings and
otherwise far away from civilized life, you will very likely find a
Sparrow or two looking after some of the droppings from the nose-bags.

In winter they get spread about and are not very noticeable, but when
the corn ripens then they all seem to multiply in extraordinary fashion.
Clouds of them rise up and fly round, startled by the loud cry or stone
slung by the ragged urchin of a bird scarer. I remember well Leighton's
picture of a bird scarer, showing an athletic young fellow, stripped to
the waist, poised on one foot, body bent back, hurling the stone as
David did at Goliath. But in the years I have known Egypt I have never
seen in real life anything approaching that picture, for it is generally
a blear-eyed small boy, half-clothed and hideously dirty, who, standing
on the pathway, yells discordantly and purposely just as you pass him,
sometimes accompanying the cry with a mild little jerky underhand throw
of some clot of hardened soil which possibly breaks in mid-air before
reaching the birds. So no lives are lost, and the birds just fly away
contemptuously to another part of the field. In Nubia it is different,
and there girls as well as boys do really sling stones, and with some
effect. I do not think there is any peculiarity of the life-history of
the Sparrow in Egypt that is

[Illustration: SPARROW

In the Temple at Deir-el-Bahari.]

not equally noticeable wherever it is met with, but whereas at
home it becomes almost a pest from its numbers, here it is not so
noticeable, and its jaunty, sprightly air and carriage are often in
agreeable contrast to the depressing squalor and monochrome, dismal
surroundings. So here it gets blessings and not cursings poured on its
head, and no one calls it "Avian Rat," or any other rude name. I have
pictured it as I often saw it, playing in and out of the decorated
temple walls, in a cleft of which possibly it was born, and the pictures
of which it can honestly say it has been familiar with from earliest
childhood. One cannot help but speculating, does the Sparrow recognize
in the painting its arch-enemy, for the pictured Hawk shown may well, as
far as form is concerned, be meant for a Sparrow Hawk; which Hawk, true
to its name, takes daily toll of all small birds and of Sparrows in
particular. I remember well one day at the Ramaseum where I was
painting--the quick passing shadow and the instant silencing of the
cheery chattering of a host of Sparrows that were all sitting on a small
bush just near me, and looking up, I saw a Sparrow Hawk dash away with a
Sparrow in its talons, whilst the others were flying precipitately away
in all directions. The Sparrow is an omnivorous feeder here, in Egypt,
as it is at home, where nothing that grows comes amiss to it, not even
the early crocuses of our gardens.


Erythrospiza githaginea

     General Plumage--Sandy-grey, darker on wings, the larger feathers
     of which are edged with bright pink; rump and upper tail-coverts
     bright pink, under-parts all creamy pink with the ends of the
     feathers carmine, beak large and bright red, legs pinkish
     flesh-colour, eyes brown. Total length, 5 inches.

The above description, as are all these descriptions, is of the adult
male bird in full plumage, but the reader must remember that this full,
brilliant plumage is generally worn only during the spring months, and
that if any bird is observed in November or December, it naturally will
not be then wearing its wedding-garment. This is especially true of the
present species; in the winter months it is a quiet-coloured little
bird, hardly to be noticed as it hops about on the cleared ground, to
which its colour is very similar, its red beak alone showing brightly;
and it is only in January that it begins to show any alteration, and
not till the end of February does it look the brilliant pink bird
described above; then it is almost impossible to over-describe its
beauties, and one is in some danger of over-painting it. Shelley says
that the young have the bill pale yellowish-brown, but I have seen
little flocks together, which I take were families, in November, and
every member of the party had brilliant red beaks, though otherwise they
were all dull sandy colour. This bird has a peculiar song or call-note
that is absurdly like that of a little tin trumpet, and this call it
continually utters, especially as it flits about, so that it can thus
often be identified even when too distant to be accurately seen. It is
really a very common bird, but on account of its inconspicuous winter
plumage, is not always noticed. In December 1908, in walking across the
cultivated Thebes valley up to the Tombs of the Kings, I must have seen
many hundreds in those few miles, and when I did not see them I could
frequently hear them. Most people really do not give themselves much
chance of seeing any of the details of bird-life, as they go everywhere
on donkey back, with chattering, ill-behaved boys as retinue, and though
the birds are tame, they naturally fly away at the approach of these
noisy cavalcades.


But if only people would walk--and I can see no earthly reason why
they shouldn't, they probably would at home--they would see such a
wealth of charming pictures of bird-life that they would be well
rewarded. As it is I have sometimes asked friends if they had noticed
the extraordinary number of Wagtails, or whatever bird was passing by on
its migration at the time, and have been astonished to find they had
seen none, when sometimes the ground has been literally covered with
them. But no, they go clanging and jolting along, and I suppose do
really see nothing.

At Assuan among the sand and rocks I have seen quite wonderfully
brilliant male birds sitting singing something almost worthy to be
called a song,--the ordinary sound is this rather monotonous single
note-call. Its food is distinctly hard food, as we say of a cage-bird,
and it spares no growing crop--maize, grass, mustard, corn, all come
alike to it--but with this bird, as with many others, one does wonder
how they support existence in the arid, plantless deserts, for you see
them quite commonly there, as well as on cultivated ground. I have seen
them in English bird-fanciers' shops, but have no knowledge as to
whether they are good cage-birds; the one thing, however, which might
make them such is of course in their love of hard grain food, and if
they can be kept in health, they would certainly be most engaging pets,
as they are very lively in their movements, and always seem to be bright
and cheery.


Corvus cornix

     Head, throat, wings, tail, beak, and legs black, with a gloss of
     purple or green on most of the feathers; remainder of plumage grey,
     eyes dark-brown. Total length, 18 inches.

A very common bird throughout Egypt. It seems strange that this should
be the only Crow--the pure black one has never been noticed--and if any
black crow-like bird is noticed it will probably be found to be the
Raven. Shelley says, "It begins breeding towards the end of February,
when its nest may be procured in every clump of sont trees,"[4] but I
have seen young ones with their parents flying about in early February,
which would mean they must have been hatched much earlier, and it would
therefore seem certain that they rear two broods in the year. It does
not seem here to have quite the same character that it has elsewhere--it
is less aggressive, tamer, not such a highwayman-robber sort of
bird--and though it is so common I cannot ever remember to have seen a
flock of them together in the real open country, they seem to go in
pairs generally; but in towns and such places as the Zoological Gardens
of Cairo they do foregather in large numbers. Its food is generally
carrion, but it will take any living thing--lizards, mice, and even
beetles--that comes in its way, and I have no doubt rob the nests of
small birds, not only of eggs but also of the unfledged young. It is
distinctly a handsome bird and it walks well, holding its head high,
whilst its flight is strong and easy.

 [4] The term "sont trees" in Egypt is applied to acacia trees.

It was entirely owing to a certain Crow, we are told, that Cairo got its
name, for it seems that when the architect was planning out the city, he
arranged that the first stone of the great surrounding wall should be
laid at a particular moment dictated by the astrologers. This moment was
to be made known to the architect by the pulling of a cord extending
from where he was to the place where the astrologers were assembled. The
momentous day arrived, the architect awaited the signal, and suddenly
the cord was shaken, and the stone was laid. But a horrid mistake had
been made. The astrologers had not pulled the cord; a wretched old Crow
had heavily perched upon it, and shaken by his weight, the unlucky
signal was given! From the vexation caused by this incident

[Illustration: HOODED CROW]

the city was called Kahira[5] (the "vexatious" or "unlucky").
Kahira softened, soon became Cairo.

 [5] Curzon's _Monasteries of the Levant_.

The Raven, as already stated, is to be seen from time to time, and
especially where the cliffs come down close to the river. It is so
similar to the ordinary Raven that it is only after the feathers of the
head and neck have been worn for some time that the brown look appears
which has given rise to the specific name of the Brown-necked Raven.
Shelley says it nests in date-palm trees, but the only nests I myself
have seen have been in the lofty cliffs of Deir-el-Bahari and Abu Fêada,
and again in some of the ruins of temples, at Karnak for instance. There
is, further, one more Raven, the Abyssinian, which is smaller by some
three inches than the Brown-necked, but it is very similar in all other


Turtur senegalensis

     General plumage a dull pinky light brown, brighter on head and
     breast, which gradually shades off into white under the tail;
     wings, warm tones of dull umber brown, which colour also is on the
     tail coverts and two central tail feathers; the rest of the tail is
     blue-grey with broad white tips, a part of the wing coverts a
     bright blue-grey; it has a not very pronounced collar of black and
     bright golden brown feathers on the sides and front of neck, eyes
     crimson, legs and feet pink. Total length, 11 inches.

The Doves have all had a sort of saintly character thrust on them, which
they hardly deserve, as they are about the most pugnacious of birds,
which is hardly a saintly qualification! It is true a pair of Doves by
themselves, kept in semi-domestication, do show a sort of maudlin
affection, but many of the smaller birds--Wrens, Tits, Warblers, and
Swallows, and many others--all show equal, if not greater true affection
to each other and absolute self-abnegation in their untiring devotion to
their offspring. Why, therefore, the Dove has been peculiarly ticketed


a model of connubial affection I really do not know, but it has,
and I suppose it will be treated as a sort of sacred symbol to the end
of time.

This particular Egyptian Turtle-dove is also sometimes called the
Palm-dove; a good name, as it is always to be found wherever there are
palm trees; on them it roosts and in their branches it nests. When
flying it opens its tail wide, and then shows the broad white and
lilac-grey of those side feathers which when sitting are all hidden away
under the two central dull brown tail feathers. Its flight through and
among trees is very rapid and tortuous, and it is perhaps when in the
dense clump of palm trees that it is most interesting, as it is so tame
that it allows of a close approach. In any of the palm groves, and palms
are everywhere in Egypt, the bird lover will be able to learn something
of this very Oriental Dove. The first thing he will note is that clearly
some of the many that are flying here and there, and feeding on the
ground around him, are quite young birds, even though it may be December
or January, and it is certain that this true inhabitant of warm sunny
Egypt has two broods at least in the year.


Pterocles senegallus

Arabic, _Gutta_

     Back and general tone of feathers sandy, top of head and breast a
     delicate pinkish-lilac, cheeks and throat a strong brilliant
     orange-yellow, wings spotted with chocolate-brown markings, legs
     feathered, centre of chest and stomach dark dull brown, two centre
     tail-feathers elongated, black at points, barred at base. The
     female is not nearly so brightly marked, indeed, is mainly
     sand-coloured; eyes brown, beak dull grey. Total length, 12 inches.

There are three different varieties of Sand-grouse in Egypt--the Singed,
the Coroneted, and the Senegal. The last has been selected as it is the
one with which I am best acquainted, but either of the others have an
equal claim, since, though occupying different localities, they are to
be met with throughout the area covered by this book. All the
Sand-grouse are very similar in their habits, they are all children of
the desert, but come down, either to feed or to water, to the cultivated
ground at morning and evening. Captain Shelley gives absolute localities
where they might be found (he was writing in 1872), and ever since he

[Illustration: SAND-GROUSE]

that information there has been each winter a regular invasion of
British and other ardent sportsmen, to each of the places named, to have
"a little Sand-grouse shooting." Result: at those places there are now
none whatever, and no one living there seems to know anything more about
Sand-grouse than that annually large numbers of men come with shooting
equipment ready to make record bags, and go away without firing a shot.
This being so, the present author thinks it best not to give localities,
for though there is no danger of Sand-grouse ever being exterminated, as
if persecuted they have the whole of these great African deserts to fall
back and back upon, yet the hunger of the modern man to go out and kill
something bearing the least resemblance to a game-bird is such, that if
it were told that at certain places near the river they could be got, in
a single season or two that place would be absolutely cleared. It seems
rather churlish perhaps, but this book is not written to aid men to
shoot Egyptian birds, but simply to recognise the birds seen; and the
first essential is that there should be birds to see. Sand-grouse seem
to be pleasant sociable birds, happy in their family life; at the
non-breeding season they foregather into large companies, in which
order they fly great distances to and fro to whatever pools or water
they customarily visit each evening, and it is at these places that the
most deadly shooting can take place, for they are very regular in their
"flighting." Captain Tindall Lucas tells me that the Coroneted
Sand-grouse drinks later in the evening and earlier in the morning than
the other forms and practically when all light has gone; the more usual
time being just before the sun sets. The freedom with which they fly is
extraordinary, it is more with the power of the Swallow than any
game-bird; they mount very high up into the air, and go wheeling round
and round, now mounting nearly out of sight, then rushing headlong down
in a long swooping curve till near the earth, when, perhaps, they will
turn off sharp at some angle and go tearing away in some opposite
direction. This is when they are in flocks, and out on the wide open
desert; when coming down to water, or near cultivation, or among the
coarse Halfa grass, they fly with direct intent, and waste no time about

Their cry must be heard to be appreciated; it is usually written as
"gutta, gutta, gutta," but no description of birds' notes ever seems to
be of much value; it is, however, so very individual that once heard
would never be forgotten, and it has, as all Nature's notes have, an
entire suitability to the surroundings, and like the boundless, yellow,
dry, herbless desert it is wild and weird, yet beautiful.

I remember once a quite intelligent Scotch keeper answering an inquiry,
as to what Ptarmigan found to eat amongst the barren hilltops where they
live with the amazing statement, delivered in the most solemn manner,
"that they just lived on the little stones," and when doubt was thrown
on his information, declared that he had often cut them open to see, and
had never found anything in their crops "but just the wee stones." And
the inquiry might well be made as to the source of food of the
Sand-grouse when one sees a large flock in the desert places that they
love to be in during the day, if one did not know of their wondrous
powers of flight, which make nothing of flying scores of miles to the
far-distant edges of cultivated ground.

I have watched Sand-grouse quite close at hand, and when on the ground
they are rather dumpy-shaped and uninteresting; if disturbed, they pull
themselves together a bit and run off to a short distance, and settle
down again in a crouching position; if again disturbed they probably
rise altogether, with their "gutta, gutta" cry and fly miles away. In
running they go like clockwork mice; you hardly see their legs or feet,
and they rise and fall over the varying contours of the ground just like
a little running wave.

From Alexandria to Assoan and beyond right to the Soudan, Sand-grouse
are to be met with, and though every one may not see this typical desert
bird, it is there if only they know where to look for it.


Ammoperdix heyi

     The colour of the upper plumage on body is so delicate in quality
     that it is hard to say if it should be called a lilac grey or pinky
     grey, whilst in certain lights it might be called a sandy brown;
     the head is, with the cheeks, neck, and breast, a pearly pink; the
     flanks are barred with rich chestnut and black on a warm white
     breast; white on the ear coverts and a white spot in front of the
     eye in the variety known as Cholmondely; legs yellow; eyes brown;
     beak a brilliant orange. The hen bird is without the bright
     chestnut bars on the flanks, and is altogether a paler-coloured
     greyish-buff, and without white on the face. Total length, 9

This is a resident Egyptian bird, and I include it in my list because,
though the traveller up the Nile may not see it, any who go across the
desert around the Pyramid district, and even those who journey only a
little out of Assoan, ought quite certainly to come across it. It is a
most charming, lively little bird, bustling about; you rarely see it
quiet for long, even in January it still keeps in coveys, and they go
running along in and out of the boulders, and, if on a hillside, they
are very quick and agile in hopping high up on to the rocks above them.
They very seldom fly if they can possibly get out of your way by
running. I very well remember seeing them on the old-time road from
Kennah to Kosseir on the Red Sea. I saw them first before reaching Wady
Hammamat, and then more frequently as we passed through the ancient
quarries. They seem to use this old roadway as their regular
feeding-ground, for there, owing to the passage of caravans backwards
and forwards, they find a perpetual source of food from the frequent
droppings. Their movements were so quick and their little bodies so
round and plump that, even with my glass on them, I could not settle the
colour of their legs, till I got a closer inspection of those in the
Cairo Zoological Gardens. As they run they utter a little cheery sort of
"cheep, cheep" call, and the whole party seem always happy, if not in
boisterous spirits, which, when one considers the hardness of their life
in these sterile wastes, seems somewhat remarkable. Grain and seeds are
their staple food, but I distinctly saw one once and again make a dart
at some passing insect, and no doubt here, as at home, they love the
ants' eggs that must exist, as ants are ever present with you in this
hot desert country. As far as my own notes go, I do not think they ever
come down even to the outskirts

[Illustration: HEY'S SAND-PARTRIDGE]

of the cultivation, but keep exclusively to the sand (possibly in
spring or summer they may approach nearer to the haunts of man, but I
have no evidence), which makes the fact of their being, as it is alleged
they are, exceedingly good eating, very remarkable, for one would be
disposed to think they would be thin, tough, and tasteless. I have it on
good authority, that as a game-bird for the table, they are far to be
preferred to our own Partridge, being, though small, very plump and of a
fine game flavour. All Partridges seem peculiar in doing well on very
little--at home one often wonders during a hard winter at their
surviving at all--for they are never fed like the pampered Pheasants,
and not only do they survive, but they seem to carry as much flesh when
shot in a hard winter as they do in September when grain lies scattered
in profusion on every stubble. Although one has praised its seeming
happy way of living, no account of this bird would be complete without
some notice of its extraordinary pugnacity. This is confined admittedly
to the males, but with them it is, as with all so-called game-birds, a
ruling passion, of which our game-cocks are of course well-known
examples; but it may not be so generally known that in many
countries--Greece, amongst others--Partridges are kept for this special
purpose of fighting for the delectation of their owners, and though I am
not aware of this little sportsman, the Sand Partridge, having been kept
for this purpose, I am sure if it was it would not disgrace the
traditions of its family, for a more pugnacious little bird than it
never walked. The males have a peculiar habit of standing ever and anon
quite upright puffing out all their breast feathers, so that they
display all the beauty of their rich chestnut and black-barred plumage.
The naturalists have discovered that in certain districts the birds all
have a white spot over the beak on the forehead, and to this variety is
given the name of Cholmondely's Sand Partridge, whilst the other type,
with only one white spot behind the eye on the cheeks, is known as Hey's
Sand Partridge. Here, as in the case of most birds, the description of
the plumage is taken from the male bird, the female nearly always being
very much more sober coloured. This cannot too often be repeated, as not
recognizing this fact often leads to mistake; and again, in the matter
of the measurements of the birds, the size given is that of the average
bird, for in almost all birds you get larger or smaller individuals, and
that veteran naturalist Wallace has just lately drawn attention to the
quite extraordinary variations in the different parts of the Common
Redwing, showing that even in twenty birds the dimensions varied


Coturnix communis

Arabic, _Salwa_

     Plumage--Upper parts brown marked with grey, rufous, and black, a
     buff line over eye and on crown of head, a semicircular collar of
     dark brown on throat; lower parts lighter, streaked with black down
     centre of feathers, beak brown, legs pale warm brown, eyes hazel.
     Total length, 7·5 inches.

The call of the male Quail is one of those strange sounds that have
around it much of the halo that the song of the Cuckoo has at home,
because it marks a definite date--the passing of winter and the coming
of summer. For the ordinary traveller this call, which by some has been
rendered as sounding like "What we whee," is all that he will ever know
of the bird's presence, as it is curiously skulking in habits, and never
rises unless suddenly alarmed by one's walking through the cover in
which it hides. Personally I agree with a friend who said the sound was
identical with the sort of cheeping call of a young turkey poult, but
all descriptions of birds' songs I hold to be rather vain. Each one for

[Illustration: QUAIL

Flying over growing corn.]

must notice and learn from actual experience, and the various
calls and notes are so individual that when once really noted are never
forgotten, and to at all a good ear these aids to identification are as
sure as if the very bird were placed in his hands. Quail pass through
Egypt when on their way to their more northerly breeding quarters early
in March and April. Some few may remain the year through, but they are a
small minority. The return to Egypt is from September to November, and
it is during these journeyings that the vast quantities are caught in
nets, which later are sent to every European city for the tables of the
rich. Mr. C. D. Burnett-Stuart very kindly has given me the following

"From Alexandria to Port Said the whole length of coast is practically
hung with nets; but Government lately has forbidden the placing of the
nets on the actual foreshore which it controls, which were the most
killing positions, and the nets can now only be placed farther back on
private and cultivated ground. The numbers of Quail which must migrate
passes belief, for it is recorded that in Coronation Year five million
were ordered and supplied for the English market alone."

"The route which they take leaving Egypt seems to be roughly the great
valley of the Nile right to its entrances to the Mediterranean; but on
the return journey from Europe they seem to reach the shores of Egypt,
then turn eastwards and follow the line of the Suez Canal and Red Sea to
about Kosseir and the old river-bed, then across the desert to the Nile,
and away spreading themselves over the heart of Africa."

"On their arrival in Egypt they are so dog-tired that they can sometimes
be caught by hand, and have been actually so caught in houses that they
have entered in a sort of dazed condition. The poor Quail are also
caught in large numbers by a drop-net whilst on passage down the river,
in clover, or any other suitable crop, the fowler calling them up to his
net by a reed whistle. Quail shooting used to be a more favourite sport
than it is now since Denshawie days, and two guns have on one occasion
obtained 252 birds in the day at Ayat, fifty miles south of Cairo."

After this one is not disposed to say "liar" even to the ancient
historian who recorded the sinking of certain vessels in the ocean,
because of the innumerable Quail that settled on them; and one readily
accepts the story of the Israelites' camp being covered all over two
cubits high by falling Quails. Canon Tristam has a note on this
incident and "the fully satisfied hungry people," that the very "Hebrew
name _selav_, in its Arabic form _salwa_, signifies fat, very
descriptive of the round plump form and fat flesh of the Quail."

Ten is said to be the average of the clutch of eggs laid, which number
partly explains the enormous flocks which come year after year in spite
of the incessant raids made upon them. If by chance you do see Quails
rise from the crops you are instantly reminded of partridges; but they
never rise as high as the latter birds, and though I have heard of their
answering to being "driven," I should think they give very
unsatisfactory shooting, as they are rarely more than a foot or two
above the crops, whether they be clover or young corn.


Cursorius gallicus

     General plumage a bright clear yellowish sand colour; forehead a
     bright burnt sienna; crown of head a light lilac-grey; eyebrows
     white; eyes brown; legs white. Length, 10 inches.

This is one of the birds commonly selected as an illustration of
"protective coloration." It lives in the sandy deserts, and its plumage
displays a curiously harmonious blending of the various colours to be
found on the dry, stony, sandy soil. The very markedly contrasting
colours of the head are just the very same that you see in the pebbles
or stones, and the smoother passages of delicate buff and greyish-yellow
are the counterpart of the curving slopes of pure sand; whilst even the
startling enamel-like white of the legs resembles the bleached, hard,
dry stalks of the desert vegetation. When the bird crouches down it is
practically invisible, though, as the phrase is, it may be "right under
your nose," but as a matter of fact it seems most often to perversely
upset the whole value of what we men deem its valuable


protective asset by running about, and drawing attention to itself
by continually uttering its peculiar cry. And when it rises and flies
off, as it frequently does, in little bands or parties, all utter the
same note with incessant, noisy reiteration. I first saw this bird when
riding across the desert towards Kosseir on the Red Sea, and I well
remember my surprise at seeing how completely different was the position
assumed by the birds to that which all the pictures with which I was
familiar had led me to expect. It runs about very high on the legs, and
every other moment lifts its body up nearly perpendicularly, looking
sharply round right and left before again making another quick little
run in search of some speck of food. It struck me as being a peculiarly
cheery little bird, and seemed to be of a sociable nature, always being
in little parties, and often when they all rose together they would be
quickly joined by some others, who had been before out of sight, and
together they would go wheeling about in mid-air, mounting high up into
the sky, till the eye unaided lost sight of them, but all the time their
whereabouts was certain, because of their most musical, reiterated cry,
which somewhat resembles that of the Sand Grouse.

It loves the deserts, and as far as I know never leaves them save to
come down, as the Sand-grouse do, to some water-hole. Round the
Pyramids, and even within sight of the babel of guides and donkey boys,
this child of the desert may be seen, but it always keeps, as it were,
in touch with the boundless open sandy tracts to which it can beat a
safe retreat. In one of the large show-cases in the great Central Hall
of the British Museum of Natural History, they are shown in a group with
other desert birds and beasts, but it is sad to see how the colours of
their plumage get--even with all the care of dust-proof cases--dull,
faded and dingy, giving little idea of the brilliantly clear, delicately
coloured plumage of the living bird, as seen under the clear blue of an
Egyptian sky.


Vanellus cristatus

     Upper plumage dark metallic alternating green and purple; a dark
     crest of upward curling pointed feathers; under plumage white;
     black chest; orange under tail coverts; beak black; legs brown;
     eyes dark brown. Total length, 13 inches.

This is the "Lapwing" or "Peewit" of England, and is a rarer bird in
Egypt than at home. But if you look sharp out, you ought to see it at
least once or twice in a run up the river, in small or larger flocks--I
do not ever remember to have seen it singly. Why I have chosen this bird
as one of our fifty is, because go where you will, north or south, you
see the undoubted counterfeit presentment of this bird engraven on the
walls of all the temples.

Many see it, but are misled by the rather mad armlike-looking thing
brandished out in front of the bird's face, and never see the undoubted
portrait of a Plover till it is actually pointed out. Why this bird
should have been chosen, and why the owl and the vulture should have
been selected from the great mass of Egypt's birds, we cannot explain,
but can only draw attention to the fact, and find interest in the
thought that just as now this bird may be seen, so in the old far-away
dynastic days it must have been a familiar bird, or it would certainly
not have been selected for use in picture and hieroglyph. Some few breed
in Egypt, it is said; but certainly the bulk all go north and west when
spring-time comes. This is the bird that supplies gourmands with their
annual dainty of Plovers' eggs; it lays four in the simplest of nests--a
mere slight depression in the ground--and as soon as the young are
hatched, within a few hours of actual birth into the outer world, they
are running about nimbly on their own little legs, and, at the
instigation of their fond parents, catching flies and insects with their
own little bills. In this matter of the helplessness, or reverse, of
newly-hatched birds, is a most interesting field for research. The proud
eagle's young are, for a long time, as helpless as our own babies, and,
it is alleged, have sometimes to be forcibly pushed out of the home;
whilst, as we have seen, Plovers' young are born almost self-supporting.
And this precocity, as it seems, is also seen in young ducklings, and in
all the so-called game-birds: all they ask for is their mother's wings
to protect them against the weather, and warmly shelter them at night.



Hoplopterus spinosus

Arabic, _Zic-zac_

     Crown, nape, chin, centre of throat, breast, and tail black; white
     cheeks, white under and above tail, back and sides of wings a
     grey-brown, a sharp hard spur on point of shoulder, bill, feet and
     legs black, eyes rich crimson. Entire length, 12 ins.

Whether this or the Black-headed Plover is to have the honour of being
the bird Herodotus has made famous will probably ever be a matter for
the Schoolmen to argue over, but lately I came across Dr. Leith Adam's
note, explaining the reason why he insists that the Spur-winged Plover
is the real friend of the crocodile and not the Black-headed,--_i.e._
"Codling not Short." "The crocodile, tired of keeping its jaws wide
open, just shuts them, to the everlasting peril of the bird; were it not
for those two sharp spurs on his wings he of course would be suffocated
and later doubtless swallowed, but by these spurs, when the roof comes
down on the top of him, he just reminds his patron of his existence, by
jabbing the tenderest parts of the interior of his mouth." This is said
invariably to refreshen the sleepy crocodile's faculties, so that he
remembers his faithful dentist and immediately opens his jaws and
releases the prisoner, to whom one hopes he expresses profound regret.

It is to be seen on the sand-banks in Lower Egypt, but gets noticeably
less frequent as one journeys into Upper Egypt, and one is disposed to
think is growing less in number year by year, as so many of the pure
river-side birds are, by reason of the now continually passing, noisy,
wash-producing steamers.

It seems to be distinctly a quarrelsome bird, anyhow when breeding, and
both male and female are more often than not to be seen having some row
or another with some poor inoffensive bird who has ventured too near
their nest. At times it stands up practically perpendicular, and jerks
its head and body up and down with clockwork regularity till the cause
of its upset has ceased, when it draws in its head and sinks it deep
between its shoulders, as is shown in the accompanying drawing. Its nest
is a mere depression in the sand, and it lays three or four eggs which
are very similar to our common Green Plover or Lapwing.

Von Heuglin relates a Mohammedan legend: That Allah, having asked all
things great and small

[Illustration: SPUR-WINGED PLOVER]

to come to a great feast, all came except this Plover. Allah
rebuked him. The Plover said he had fallen asleep and forgot all about
the fixture. Allah, who knows all things, knew he lied, and answered,
"Then from this time forth thou shalt know no sleep," and he made these
two spurs to grow on the points of his shoulders so that he shall suffer
great pain if he try to sleep by putting his head under his wing.


Pluvianus aegyptius

Arabic, _Ter el timsah_

Top of head black, as also is a band through eye which
meets the black and across chest; wing and sides of back
a very beautiful pale lilac blue-grey, under-parts white, lower
throat and flanks a creamy rufous, legs bluish, eye brown.
Total length, 8·5 inches.

This is regarded as quite certainly the bird known in ancient days as
the Crocodile Bird. It was held to be the faithful attendant of this
fearsome reptile, warning it of danger: and when the creature it fed was
full, this little bird was supposed to attend to the proper cleaning of
the ogre's teeth! For this purpose, we are told, the crocodile would lie
quietly with its great mouth wide open whilst this brave little dentist
ran about briskly right into the open jaws and deftly removed noisome
leech or scrap of food left between those ugly fangs, and never showing
the slightest fear. It is a pretty story, but as there are now no
crocodiles in Egypt proper, the ordinary traveller has no chance of
seeing if this be so or no. But though the crocodiles are gone the
Black-headed Plover is


still to be seen by those going up or down by water. Mr. E.
Cavendish Taylor, writing in 1867, says, "This bird is abundant all
along the Nile above Cairo, wherever the banks of the river are muddy."
Captain Shelley in 1870, referring to it, says, "It is plentifully
distributed throughout Egypt and Nubia, but it is most abundant in Upper
Egypt between Siool and Thebes." I myself saw it many times in 1875,
whilst going up and returning, in good quiet-fashioned way, by dahabeah;
but when I again went over the same ground in 1908, although going very
slowly and stopping every day, I only find, from my notebook, that we
saw it three or four times in our six weeks' journey from Thebes to
Cairo. All that we saw were wild and anything but the confiding birds
one has been taught to regard them. I think by far the most notable
thing about this bird is its curious habit of laying its eggs on the
sand, and then carefully burying them with the clear purpose of letting
the genial sun do the bulk of the work of hatching out. Captain Verner
gives a most interesting and detailed account of watching the movements
of one of these birds on a sandbank. He went to the place, he writes,
"And at the precise spot turned over the sand, and about half an inch
below the surface discovered three fresh eggs, which the artful bird
had completely buried.... Still I was unable to account in my own mind
for the very energetic movements to and from the water which I had
witnessed on this occasion, until I received an account from a cousin,
Lieutenant George Verner, of the Borderers, who was stationed about
forty miles farther down the river than I was, which solved the mystery,
as follows:--'On 25th April I was waiting in a boat alongside of a
sandbank, and my attention was attracted by a pair of Black-headed
Plovers which kept flitting about quite close to me. I noticed that one
of them was continually wetting its breast at the water's edge about ten
yards below our boat, and then running up the bank to a spot about the
same distance inshore of us, when it would squat down and remain about
two minutes or so, after which it would get up, and, running down to the
water's edge above us, fly round to the spot where it had dabbled
previously.... At the spot where the bird had been crouching I found a
clutch of eggs half buried in the sand, their tops only being visible;
the sand immediately surrounding them was moist, although the bank I was
on was an expanse of dry burning sand.'" From this it seems clear, as
Captain Verner says, that this plover has learnt that with judicious
damping, the sand and the sun will do the hatching, thereby removing the
necessity of having to spend long days and nights brooding over the
eggs. It is, however, very curious that no other of the large number of
birds that lay their eggs on the desert sand or hard dry mud-banks
should do this: and especially curious since these birds are first
cousins, as one might say, to the Spur-winged Plover--which breeds often
within a few hundred yards of where Black-headed ones are--and this bird
sits continuously till the young are hatched. The egg resembles that of
the Red Grouse and is not very plover-like in character--indeed, some
ornithologists will have it this bird is not really a Plover, but is
more allied to the Coursers.


Aegialitis minor

     General colour of upper plumage a delicate grey-brown; under
     plumage white, with a black bar through the eye, and a dark mark on
     the forehead, bordered at its lower and upper margin with white;
     and a rich black collar going nearly all round body; legs reddish.
     Total length, 6·5 inches.

This bird no one can fail to see, as, though it is in other countries a
shy bird, it is here amazingly tame and familiar. By the river, by
canal-side, round every small pool or watercourse, there you will see
this cheerful little compact-shaped bird. All last winter, 1907-8, I had
seen great numbers in the Thebes district, but in this winter of 1909 I
have on Lake Menzaleh seen literally thousands of Ring-Plover. I cannot
be sure they were all "the Little Ring-Plover"; that they were
Ring-Plovers, I am certain, but as there are three species of
Ring-Plover--the Great, the Middle, and the Little (and Captain Shelley
strangely gives the dimensions of the Middle form as smaller than the
Little)--it is safest not to be too dogmatic, and only call them
Ring-Plovers. It is a very active bird, incessantly on the search for

[Illustration: RINGED-PLOVER]

and the pace that those little legs can go, when they do their
best, is amazing. It has a charming way of ever and anon stopping
suddenly still and looking steadily at you, with head held very slightly
aside, seeming to try to read right through you, and discover if you are
friend or foe. When it flies its wings are seen to be very sharp and
pointed, and bearing some resemblance to a snipe's--a bird it is often
made to do duty for by those romancers, the native gunners, who tempt
the uninitiated to accompany them for snipe-shooting, and assure the
new-comer these poor little Plover are Snipe--"Egyptian" Snipe.


Gallinago coelestis

     Top of head, back, and upper feathers of wings dark brown, in parts
     nearly black with a bluish gloss, two buff streaks on each side of
     shoulders; face and chest spotted with dusky brown, whilst the
     flanks are barred with the same colour; tail bright chestnut,
     barred with black and tipped with white; legs greenish; bill brown,
     at base flesh colour; eyes dark brown. Length, 11·5 inches.

The Snipe in some parts of Upper Egypt are so extraordinarily tame--and
hardly behave as Snipe do generally--that I have no doubt they are often
seen by many who never recognise them as Snipe at all. At the Sacred
Lake at Karnak I have seen veritable processions of visitors, headed by
a talking dragoman, walk along the path quite near one which was
standing at the water's edge, and if none left the pathway it would
remain stolid, but if any boy, or workman, came down to bathe or drink,
it just flew across to the other side and at once settled down again.
And in the very early morning before the workers arrive, I have stood
right on the shore, not screened or hidden in any way, and had Snipe
dibbling about in the water not more than five or six yards away. The
first time this happened I thought the bird must be wounded or unable to
fly, but it was not, and it is only one more proof of the benefit that
the Antiquities Department has produced by exercising its authority over
the areas it controls. No shooting is allowed on "Antiquities ground,"
and birds very soon get to know this, gain confidence, and lose all
their natural shyness. Needless to say, in those parts where they are
shot they behave as warily as Snipe do at home, and are up and away with
their curious "scarpe, scarpe" cry. Years ago the Delta was one of the
best snipe-grounds in the world, and an old sportsman in Cairo told me
of his getting 93 couples in a day, and as late as 1902 a certain five
days' shooting gave an average of 72 couple per day. In nearly all such
bags some Jack Snipe were obtained; and in Mr. M. J. Nicoll's notes on
birds met with at Menzaleh the Jack Snipe is given as the commoner of
the two species.

There is nothing to show that Snipe ever breed in Egypt, though there
are many localities where it well might, and it is another of the great
army of winter migrant visitors that go to the north as spring comes on.
It lives entirely on insects and worms, which it procures by probing the
soft, black mud with its long, sensitive bill. I have seen Snipe in
most unlikely places, and once saw one fly right through an open space
at the Ramaseum Temple. From my notes of a night's watching at a pool I
borrow the following: "_14th January_, 7.30 P.M.--Snipe are squawking,
and can hear them coming in on all sides throughout night, which is a
dark one; could hear only faint rippling noise at intervals, as some
duck or wader moved about, and the earliest call was at 3 A.M., when a
Snipe squawked once or twice, then silence again, and only a faint,
far-away dog's bark, and a cricket in the sandbank near my side began
churring. At 5 A.M. great splashing at end of pool, and coot began
moving. No light showed till after 6, and then one could see duck
feeding and moving off, and again little wisps of Snipe went over my
head and away."


Scolopax rusticula

     The plumage is grey below, faintly barred on flanks. The head
     barred on top and spotted on sides. The wings are rich
     chestnut-brown with transverse bars of black; a narrow stripe of
     rich yellow triff edged with black runs along the scapulars; tail
     short and pointed, barred with chestnut and black, is tipped with
     grey above and pure white beneath. Legs a pale flesh colour; beak
     reddish at base, brown at tip. Eyes, peculiarly large and of a rich
     brown, are placed more backward than in most birds. Total length,
     14·25 inches.

Accounts in 1907-8 show that the Woodcock has been obtained fairly
frequently, and a case was told me of two being obtained literally by
the side of the road from Cairo to the Pyramids in one morning. It is
very usual to deplore the existence of "the man with the gun" without in
the least really considering the whole matter. That certain men with
guns shoot at everything and at all times, breeding season or otherwise,
and without any object in killing their victims, is of course
deplorable; but the killing of birds in season that can be used as food
for man is no offence whatever. Further, from observant good sportsmen
has come a full half of all the knowledge of birds that exists, and
this cannot be too often dwelt upon, as enthusiasts run riot on this
subject, and do damage to a good cause by injudicious condemnation. The
accompanying illustration is a small example of what I mean. All know
that birds, like ourselves, have eyes and ears, and one knows that the
relative positions thereof are as in ourselves--the ear lies behind the
eye. No book that I am aware of has any intimation that any other order
exists; but one day, a winter or so ago, I shot a Woodcock, and for the
purpose of making a minute study of the bird examined it closely, when I
found that the ear was in front of the eye. I at once consulted all my
bird books, but found no reference to this strange fact. I then examined
ten other birds, and though they varied individually, not one but had
the ear somewhat in front of the eye.

[Illustration: FIG. 7.

_Head of Woodcock, to show the position of the Ear._]

The woodcock's food is mainly obtained by

[Illustration: COMMON SNIPE]

probing. Its bill is richly supplied with very delicate nerves,
and it probes the soft mud and ooze in search of those grubs and insects
that live there. It also feeds on worms that it obtains above ground,
and indeed has a varied diet.


Rhynchoea capensis

     Head and neck a rich red-brown, darkest on the lower neck or
     breast; dark streak through eye; buff marking from beak to top of
     head; back a changing brown with purple and green reflections on
     the wing, barred with darker markings; the large wing-feathers have
     rows of bright buff spots on their outer margins; rump a dark slaty
     grey with darker wavy bars; buff stripes on shoulders; legs
     greenish; beak reddish-brown; eyes brown. Length, 9·3 inches.

This name is unfortunate, for some people seem to imagine that the bird
will be found to have paint on it, like a painted Sparrow! Though a
handsomely marked bird, those who have shot much say that as a sporting
bird it is not to be compared with the common Snipe, as it rises slowly,
it does not twist or zig-zag about, and is content with a very short
flight. It is a resident bird, and breeds in May in Lower Egypt. I met
with it at Lake Menzaleh when there in April, and it possibly is more
common throughout the country than is imagined, as it lies very close in
cover, and rarely shows itself unless compelled to by being almost
trodden upon.

[Illustration: PAINTED SNIPE]


Recurvirostra avocetta

     Whole plumage white, excepting the following parts, which are
     black--top of head and back of neck, a band between the shoulders,
     inner part of scapulars, wing-coverts, and primaries; beak long and
     slender, and turned upwards; legs, slaty-blue-green colour. Total
     length, 17 inches.

I have included this bird because it is like the Spoonbill, so singular
in the form of its bill, and so interesting to us, because at one time
it was fairly common in Great Britain. If it is seen it ought to be
easily identified, not only because of its black and white plumage, but
also because of the curious sweeping movement it makes with its bill as
it searches the water for its prey, something suggestive of a mower with
a scythe. Captain Shelley says it is met with in large flocks on the
Nile, but I have only seen it in very small parties, six being the
largest number that I have seen together on the river, but at Lake
Menzaleh I have seen hundreds together. Von Heuglin says they are very
abundant on the shores of the Red Sea, but on the two occasions I was on
those shores--the last time at Kosseir--I was not fortunate enough to
observe it. On the sandbanks--those that are very low, with wet spots
and little pools--it can be seen better than when they are in big
flocks on the salt lakes. Those who travel up and down the Nile in the
only way one should do the river journey, namely, by sailing dababeah,
should keep a good look-out for this beautiful bird; but I fear that
those who pass by in great steamers have less chance, as I have often
noticed when my boat has been moored to the bank that on the approach of
these monsters pouring out their black clouds of smoke, every bird,
great and small, hurries off in disgust if not in absolute alarm. The
Avocet is not a permanent resident in Egypt, but comes from a northern
home to winter here. It is entirely dependent on the water for its food,
obtaining therefrom endless minute specks of life by means of its bill,
moved from side to side on the top, or just under the surface of the
muddy pools. When at Lake Menzaleh in March and April I saw great flocks
of many hundreds just near the last sandbank that separates the lake
from the Mediterranean, and Mr. M. J. Nicoll has seen it there in
January. They are web-footed, a peculiarity that they share with the
Flamingo, another very long-legged wading bird, but whereas the latter
is really in form rather an ugly, ungainly bird, the Avocet is
peculiarly elegant and graceful in all its movements.

[Illustration: AVOCET]


Ibis aethiopica

     General plumage white; a mass of almost hair-like feathers falls
     over the wings and tail--these feathers are a rich metallic black
     with deep blue reflections; head and neck bare of all feathers,
     showing black wrinkled skin; beak and legs black; eyes brown.
     Length, 28 inches.

This is one of the birds the selection of which I fully expect to get
criticism on. But I have chosen it for two reasons that, I think,
justify its inclusion. The first is, that from one cause or another the
Sacred Ibis is a bird so wrapped up with all our ideas of Egypt, and
almost representative of the birds of Egypt, that most, although they do
not know the bird, are interested in its existence. The second is one
that follows this known interest, namely, the exposing of the dragoman's
oft-repeated impudent lie, that he can, and does, show the newcomer
Sacred Ibises, whereas he does not and cannot.

Why, exactly, this bird was treated with reverence in its lifetime as a
sacred being, and embalmed and mummified when dead, is not known. That
it was is certain; and most museums can show many many examples. Then
again, it was taken and placed on the body of a man, and made a symbol
of the god Thoth, who presided over arts, inventions, writing, and
literature. So it has come to pass that all of us, before even our first
visit to the Nile, know of this bird, anyhow by name, and being here,
very naturally desire to see it. The dragoman, being asked so frequently
to point out Sacred Ibises, long ago settled that it would be best to
please and humour his patrons, and determined to call all Egrets,
Spoonbills, and Buff-backed Herons, being white birds with long necks
and legs, Sacred Ibises. Time after time I have been solemnly informed
that four or five, or a round dozen, Ibises had been seen at such a
place. On inquiry I have been told there could be no mistake, as dear
So-and-so, the dragoman, had pointed them out and assured all and sundry
that they were "genuine Sacred Ibis." And though strange, it is true,
people prefer to believe a lie if it confirms what they wish, than the
truth if it does not. The sad truth is, there are no Sacred Ibises in
Egypt at all, and the dragomans--anyhow, most of them--know this
elementary bit of ornithology perfectly well, but they prefer to lie,
and live in the perpetual atmosphere of mild


admiration and interest that follows their every utterance. No,
the first place that you can at all safely look for Ibis in is south of
Kartoom. It needs the great jungle-like brakes of papyrus that grow
rampantly along the river-course, and which help to constitute the dread
"sudd" of those waters. Immense masses of it, we are told, get torn off
and detached when the new year's flood comes rushing down, and along
with other masses go floating onwards till they meet with some stoppage
and then they form a dam, new masses coming down and down, till there
may be miles of this floating jungle, which can, and does, get so packed
and compressed by the weight behind it that it becomes nearly solid. In
country like that the Ibis lives, and that is, all will see at once, not
the country that Egypt is like, and therefore the Ibis is an absentee
from the big, gently-flowing Nile from Assoan to Alexandria. Was it ever
common in ancient Egypt? Not unless the conditions of those days were
markedly different to these. The river rose each year then as now, and
then as now by its rise and rush of waters must have kept the channel
clear and the banks bare; but it is possible that there may have been at
certain points big swamps where the papyrus grew, which have now become
cultivated ground. This view might be taken from the extensive use of
papyrus in dynastic days, almost implying that it grew commonly near at
hand. What is certain, however, is that it does not do so now; and Ibis
and papyrus are so joined together that, the one being absent, the other
is also. In the plate I have therefore shown Ibis in a regular jungle of
papyrus.[6] There is something strange, almost weird, about the
appearance of this bird, with his bald black head; something almost
priestly about the black and white drooping wings forming a vestment
from which springs the thin, black, naked neck and back. Some will see
none of these things, and only find a resemblance to an ugly vulture. It
is rather a moody sort of bird, and does not get on over well with other
birds when kept in confinement. It eats nearly anything that comes out
of the water, and is especially partial to a nice young fat frog.

 [6] It was by M. Legran's courtesy that I was allowed to make my first
 drawings of papyrus, from some that was found growing in the garden of
 his charming house at Karnak.


Grus communis

     The whole of the body a delicate lilac grey, flight feathers dark.
     Secondary wing-feathers very long, covering with a plume-like mass
     the wings and tail. Sides of face white, as are the sides of neck,
     which is black in front; top of head black, the centre of the crown
     bare of feathers and of a brilliant red; beak greenish-yellow; eyes
     red-brown. Total length, 46 inches.

Cranes will only be seen flying in flocks high in air, or else resting
after a day's flight on some sandbank by the river-side. As soon as they
have rested, fed, and refreshed themselves, they are up and away again,
and, as far as I know, they do not now remain anywhere in Egypt a day
longer than is necessary. They are as rapid in their visits as the most
scampering of tourists, who only allot so many days for a whole
continent. But owing to the enormous numbers that there are of these
birds, some of the migrating armies of them may be seen either in the
autumn when they are all going due south, or on the break-up of the
winter when they are all going due north. It seems strange that they
should get so far north as Lapland and Siberia, but that they do there
is abundance of proof; and it must always be remembered that these
migrant birds seem to choose the most northerly point of their migration
to breed and rear their young, so that when you see flocks wending their
way back in the spring-time all up the Nile valley you must picture them
as on their way to their northern homes, either in North Germany,
Russia, or Scandinavia. They make but a rough nest on the ground in some
parts of the great marshes they love, on little islands or tussocks of
coarse grass. Only two eggs are laid, of a rich brown colour with dark
spots: and the young are especially lively, running about with ease a
few days after being hatched. Therein they contrast strongly with the
young of the Heron, which remain in the nest for long weeks, and must
have every scrap of food brought right up to their nursery.

Cranes' plumage, after the summer's work is over, fades very greatly,
and I have seen it stated that the lovely lilac-grey altogether
vanishes, leaving but a very dirty, grey-brownish plumage. This is also
true of the Heron, and doubtless of all birds whose delicately coloured
plumage is put on for the breeding season, for the wear and tear that
these delicate

[Illustration: CRANES]

feathers have to pass through in all that long nesting period is
enough to soil and spoil everything.

Their food is very varied. In captivity they seem as if they could, and
would, eat anything, and I remember once seeing one trying to swallow a
kid glove that had accidentally been dropped into its enclosure;
possibly it thought it was some sort of dried frog! Insects, snails,
frogs, and anything it can get from the water, as well as seeds and
grasses, are its stock articles of diet.

M. Maspero told me that in his opinion there was a notable diminution of
their number and of the time they spend in Egypt every winter--a view I
also take most decidedly with my own recollections of twenty-five years
ago, when I saw them so frequently that then they were one of the
commonest sights on the Nile, whilst in the winters of 1907-1908 I was
only once able to make drawings of them on a sandbank near Minieh, and
saw but two or three flocks during the whole time flying high in air.
This is entirely owing to the great increase of large steamers which,
passing up and down, disturb the quiet of the water. If one is fortunate
enough to hear them calling one to another as they fly above your head,
one will ever afterwards be able to identify them, even though they be
mere specks in high heaven, as the sound is peculiarly trumpet-like and
sonorous. It carries an enormous distance, and attention may perhaps be
drawn to their coming before the faintest sign of them can otherwise be

Most would think, from a general glance at the Crane, that it was a
Heron of some sort, but scientists tell us that it is a long way removed
from them, and indeed some place it nearer the Bustards. There are many
species of Cranes, and they are to be found practically the world over,
for not only in Africa and Europe, but Asia, and Australia, and America
all have their special Cranes.

In many of the wall-paintings throughout Egypt Cranes are shown, and in
none are they in more exact truth than in the temple at Deir-el-Bahari.
There they are shown walking in stately fashion between slaves bearing
precious burdens; whilst some carry garden produce, rich fruits, and
flowers, others are laden with ready trussed fowls and ducks, and amidst
them all the graceful bird walks on. One wonders it does not fly away,
for these good things do but foreshadow its own end; but if you look
closely you will see its bill is tied down close to its neck, for these
old-time people knew well the habits of the beasts and birds, and knew
that if it could not stretch out head and neck it could not fly. All
Cranes, and indeed many other birds, seem unable to start flight without
a certain momentum given by a run forward with wings outspread and
stretched-out neck. With head tied down it could get no balance, and
would flap and flop, and then fall to the ground. It is in little
details such as this that the more you know the more you respect the
knowledge of these old artists, and admit the truth and merit of their
unrivalled art.

[Illustration: FIG. 8.]


Platalea leucorodea

     Plumage white all over, tinged with buff on the lower part of the
     neck; head crested; beak flattened from above downward, and
     terminating in a broad spoon-shaped expansion; eye red.

When seen flying the Spoonbill can be readily distinguished from the
only other white Egyptian bird, _i.e._ the Egret, because the former
flies with its neck extended, whilst the latter, being of the Heron
tribe, flies with its neck drawn back close to the body.

I have seen pictures in some of the Gurnah tombs which, though crudely
drawn, were undoubtedly meant for the Spoonbill. The old-time artist was
apparently so struck with the flat, spoon-shaped beak that he deemed it
a worthy subject for the exercise of his art. But though faithfully
drawn in so far as its form is concerned, it is wrongly depicted in its
relation to the head, since the head is shown in profile, while the beak
is drawn as though it were seen from above! In no picture that I can
recall by these ancient draughtsmen is any bird ever shown in the very
slightest degree foreshortened.

[Illustration: SPOONBILLS

On a mud-bank.]

The use of this very remarkable beak is apparent when the bird is
seen feeding; it is held low down on the surface of the water, and
pushed along, like a shrimper's net, in front of the bird, so as to
collect the minute organisms which constitute its food. I have also seen
this beak driven deep down, and brought to the surface bearing long
strings of grass and other water weeds. In February 1909, when walking
along the front at Luxor,--with its hotels and shops, crowds of people
and noisy donkey-boys,--I was startled by quite a big flock of
Spoonbills that were beaten down low by a strong wind. They passed so
close over my head that I saw their big flat beaks and long extended
necks quite plainly: as they got farther away their general likeness to
Swans in flight was most striking.

Like all birds showing any marked peculiarity in the shape or size of
the beak, the Spoonbill wears a somewhat melancholy air, and my readers
will doubtless recall this appearance in the case of Herons and Storks,
Pelicans and Cormorants.

Time was when the Spoonbill was once common in Great Britain; this is
now, unhappily, no longer the case, but no farther away than Holland it
still lives and breeds.



Ciconia alba

     The White Stork is white all over, save for all the true wing
     feathers, which are black. Beak and bare skin round eye, legs and
     feet, bright red; eyes brown. Total length, 44 inches.


Ciconia nigra

     The Black Stork is a bronzy black with purple and green reflections
     all over head, neck, back, and wings. The lower parts white, and
     beak and bare skin, legs and feet, bright red; eyes brown. Total
     length, 42 inches.

Facing page 1 is shown a White Stork flying, and the fact that all
Storks, in distinction to Herons, fly with their heads and their legs
stretched out to their fullest extent, has been already pointed out.
This Stork is nearly always seen in large flocks, and there must be ten
to one of the white to the black species. The white bird is eminently a
gregarious bird, sociable with its fellows, and this sociability extends
also to mankind; and most have seen the old wheels stuck on poles and
rough platforms

[Illustration: Black Stork]

built on the top of buildings and barns in Holland or Germany to
encourage the bird to come and nest. The Stork and the Swallow know
their seasons, and people love to have these messengers of the coming
summer make their home with them; and in many places there are
traditions of the same site having been used by them for nesting in for
hundreds of years. Of all this side of their life, however, those seen
in Egypt show nothing, as nearly all that come are simply migrating
still farther south. A very few do remain throughout the winter in one
or two exceptionally favoured feeding-grounds; Lake Menzaleh, for
instance, with its great area of shallow water teeming with fish and
aquatic insect life, is a favourite haunt. The profusion of life in
every pool and puddle throughout Egypt is really astonishing. I have
seen isolated spaces hardly exceeding a couple of square yards
absolutely teeming and heaving with innumerable beetles and larvæ of
flies and insects. I can also recall one little pool in the centre of
one of the many small nameless islands in Lake Menzaleh: when I
approached it, from its glittering whiteness I took it to be one of
those salt-covered basins that are everywhere, but when I looked close
the whole floor of what had been a small pool was one solid mass of
dead fry, none longer than an inch and a half. The water had been all
over the island, but when I was there in April it had gone down, and
this mass of imprisoned little fish had died as the water gradually
dried up. How long they may have been dead I do not know, but the level
mass of them was so untouched that it was clear no gull or heron or
stork had been there, and yet the district was full of these birds; but
I presume living food being in such profusion round them, they cared not
to trouble about dead. The pool looked like a large basin of the most
wonderfully silvery whitebait.

Up the Nile when flocks of Storks are seen they are always either
heading due north in spring, or due south in autumn. Every now and again
they indulge, however, sometimes for hours together, in curious aerial
exercises high up in mid-air over one spot--why this is I do not know.
This, as is the case with so many of birds' habits, is all that can be
done--note the fact. Conclusions drawn from these facts are vain, as too
often man reads into these birds' actions the reasons that would occur
in his life; and the life of a bird is not as that of a man, and the
sooner man throws over all such ideas that he can tell anything of the
causes of birds' actions by reading himself into their lives, the
sooner he may get at the real truth of the matter. I say this because I
have been asked so often the question, Why do the Storks behave in this
curious way? I don't know, and at present I don't think any man knows;
for if they are on a journey the only stop you would think they would
make would be for rest or food, yet for hours, sometimes almost for the
best part of a day, they do stop over one spot, and you will see these
vast flocks high up, so that they look like mere specks, going round and
round, sometimes higher, sometimes lower, but never going far from some
unseen centre of attraction till the spirit moves them; and swinging out
of the great circle, they one by one take their places in the wake of
some chosen leader to the land to which they would go.

The White Stork makes a curious clattering noise with its bill. Its food
is mainly derived from the water; and frogs, a plague of which is always
over Egypt, are favourite morsels.

If sailing down the river you chance on a large flock resting on some
sandbank, you will see a picture which would be exceedingly difficult to
surpass in beauty and interest. The white of the great masses of birds
comes in fine contrast with the reds of their legs and the golden
yellow of the sand, and if on your nearer approach they all
simultaneously rise together into mid-air you will be hardly likely to
forget the scene for a whole lifetime.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Black Stork is not so interesting as the above, but it is a
remarkably handsome bird in itself. All its peculiarities are just the
opposite of the White Stork. It is not gregarious, but generally rather
a solitary bird; it does not love its own species, and it certainly does
not court the proximity of man. On the scale that our drawing has had to
be reduced to, to suit these pages, it comes very small, but not too
small to show the general disposition of the colours of its plumage. We
came very early in the morning on this group standing at the end of a
long sand-bar, just ten miles south of Sohag, and they never got up as
the boat sailed comparatively close by them. The group was a very mixed
one, as in addition to the four Black Storks there were two Spoonbills
and a Heron; and I find another note that once I saw three Black Storks,
one White Stork, and several Herons all in a bunch together, this also
in the grey of an early March morning. These two cases of a
contradiction of what we are generally told is the ordinary habit of
shunning their own species is only another of the endless cases that I
have met with of the variation of the individual in absolutely
everything. All that can be done is to give what is believed to be the
average customary habit, but ever be prepared for individuals
contradicting the rule. To dogmatise as to what a child or a bird will
do is always March madness. The Black Stork is like his white cousin, of
great use in keeping down the Egyptian plague of frogs.


Balaeniceps rex

Arabic name, _Abu-markub_, or Father of a Slipper

     The whole plumage is a faded blue-grey running into darker tones on
     the wing. The primaries and tail being nearly black, eyes light
     yellow, legs dark brownish-black. Bill, huge, boat-shaped.

This bird I have included, though hardly a true Egyptian bird, its home
being in the Soudan and south to Uganda, where Sir H. Johnston commonly
saw it. It is the greatest show-bird the Cairo Zoological Gardens
possesses, and by the ordinary person can be alone seen in Egypt. It is
so exceedingly quaint and grotesque, that even when desiring to give an
accurate representation of it, one is conscious that one's drawing seems
to look rather like a caricature. When it stands still there is
something suggestive of a crabbed, disagreeable old person; and when it
walks, the slow pedantic gait with the leg shot forward, with distended
toes pointing outwards, inevitably suggests the drum-major or the
dancing-master. So many people

[Illustration: SHOEBILL STORK]

visiting the Cairo Gardens remember only this quaint bird, that it
has become one of the most popular birds of the country, and is better
known than very many of the true native Egyptian birds.

Captain Stanley S. Flower says "he saw perhaps as many as forty in one
day" during a trip on the White Nile. "They were to be seen usually
singly, sometimes two or three within a score of yards of each other,
standing about on the edges of the marsh, always in the same attitude.
In the motionless way in which they stand, their solitariness, and their
flight, they are more like a Heron than a Stork. In fact, at a distance,
unless you can see the bill, it is impossible to tell them when on the
wing from the Goliath Heron."

Mr. A. L. Butler says of it in its native wilds: "They seem of a very
sluggish nature, and I seldom observed them on the wing unless put up by
our steamer." And as to its food, he writes: "I have never known it
attempt to eat shell-fish; the bird is a fisher pure and simple, but
doubtless, like a Heron, will eat any small mammal or young water-bird
that comes within reach." Heron-like, Balaeniceps, instead of searching
for its prey, waits patiently for it to come to it. It is generally to
be seen standing motionless on newly-burnt swampy ground, or short
grass flooded with an inch or two of water, inside the fringe of
papyrus, or "um suf" sudd which separates the channel of the
Bahr-el-Ghazal from the plains. I never saw the bird actually wading in
water. Its food consists principally of _Polypterus senegalus_, which
wanders a great deal into flooded grass-land. Sometimes the bird will
perch on the top of a tree, but trees are scarce in its haunts. Its
flight is heavy, but powerful; the neck is drawn back like a Heron's.
"It seems to be rather a quarrelsome bird; on its first arrival at
Khartoum, it seized a fox terrier which approached it so sharply that
the dog fairly yelled." Some of its habits are as peculiar as its
appearance, for, later on, Mr. Butler tells us, "They have a curious
trick of repeatedly bringing up their food before finally swallowing it.
This often results in the disgorged fishes being snatched up by Kites";
and every visitor to the Giza Gardens must have noticed its curious
habit of rattling its bill as it alternately lifts and lowers its head
as a sort of welcome to its keeper. When it stands thus with its head
lowered, its bill clattering, and its neck slightly swollen and held
straight as a stick, it is about the most curious-looking bird possible.
At the date of writing, I believe these three specimens at Giza are the
only ones in any zoological gardens in the world, and the authorities
are naturally very proud of them; but we do hope that some day we shall
have some in our own Zoological Gardens in London, as they are birds
that can stand captivity well.


Ardea cinerea

     The top of head, neck, and under-parts white; a stripe above the
     eye, back of head, and long, thin crest-feathers; spots on breast,
     and larger wing-feathers black; flanks a very light grey; rest of
     plumage a delicate slaty-grey shading on the wings to a darker hue;
     beak yellowish-green; legs greenish-black; eyes yellow. Entire
     length, 38 inches.

This is the common Heron of England, and is evenly distributed over the
country. It needs water, and from that cause is more often seen in Lower
than Upper Egypt. It seems to be a visitor and not a resident. Mr. M. J.
Nicoll tells me that from August to April it is steadily seen either in,
or flying over, the Zoological Gardens at Cairo, and if it were a
resident bird it would be one of the first to make the Gardens a
breeding-place, as the thick trees and quiet pools of water are all to
its liking; but I have not heard that it ever occurs there during the
summer months. The group I sketched were standing together at the edge
of a pool on the river, gazing stolidly at a solitary pelican. At home,
it always nests in colonies known as heronries, and I believe that in

[Illustration: HERONS

At dawn on the Nile.]

it is rather increasing than decreasing in numbers. The young
birds are peculiarly ugly, and have a rather mad-looking hairy down
covering on their heads, which is retained till they have become almost
fully fledged. When I have been watching Herons standing, patiently
waiting by the hour together, for fish to come within striking distance,
I have often wondered if there was any truth in the old homely legend of
their legs having some potent fascination by reason of an exuded oil
which the fish love, that tempts them to come swimming round and round
till they approach too near and are adroitly caught. Anyhow this is
certain, it does not walk after them; they come to it. Having chosen its
spot, it remains there as quiet as a mouse, and with the true
fisherman's patience bides its time. It is a curious sight to see the
way in which it perches on a branch. It drops its long, thin legs and
seizes it with its extended toes, but always seems to find it hard to
get its balance, and as the branch sways with its weight it bends its
body this way and that, all the time keeping its wings expanded as if
trying to get just the right balance, and you realise then that it is no
true "perching bird." It lends its picturesque form to Egyptian scenery,
just as it does to our homely English waters or wilder Scotch lochs; it
always, somehow, goes well with the landscape. Shelley says, "It may be
seen in considerable numbers in company with Spoonbills, Pelicans, and
other waders." And it is one of the curious facts about bird life here,
that so many of the birds that we know only as solitary and not at all
given to consorting in flocks, either with their own species or any
other, save at their breeding stations, frequently do show a complete
difference of habit in this respect in this country. From the boat I
remember seeing a singular line of seven birds flying towards us. The
first was a Heron, then a Spoonbill, then a Heron followed by two
Spoonbills, and the straight line ended with two Herons, all so close
together, the bill of one nearly touching the tail of the other, and all
keeping time with the utmost precision.

To enumerate all the places I have watched this bird at is unnecessary,
as at one time or another I have seen it everywhere. Its food is fish,
frogs, and it is particularly fond of eels.


Ardeola russata

     General plumage white, delicately tinged with buff on head, nape,
     crop, and back; beak and bare skin round eye, yellow; eye, light
     yellow; legs, olive-black. Total length, 20·5 inches.

This is the bird that is most often called the Egret, and it is very
similar, as in its winter plumage it is practically white all over--just
a line of buff on the crown. It is of the greatest service to the cattle
when feeding or resting, as it seems to know no fear, and settles on
their backs, one or two at a time, and diligently searches for flies and
ticks and all those parasitic things that infest the poor brutes. I have
seen them walk right up to one of the recumbent buffaloes, and go
solemnly picking things off it all the way round its face, even off its
eyes, whilst the creature never ceased chewing the cud, and one saw its
jaw going solemnly round and round whilst the bird did its best to free
it from the pests. What Egypt would be without all these birds, who are
ceaselessly at work clearing the air of insect life, it is appalling to
contemplate, for with them the clouds of flies, midges, mosquitoes and
the rest render life in some places intolerable. No one quite knows what
flies are till one tries sketching out of doors here. With your palette
on one hand and brushes in the other, you are an easy prey to them, and
they take every advantage of the fact. They will cluster by the dozen on
your face, walk in brigades over the ridge of your nose, sting you on
the hand, at the back where your palette hides them from your view, and
even if you have a boy with a fly-wisp they will never leave you. I have
found them at their worst at the edges of the cultivated land, where
trees are often growing picturesquely, tempting the artist to sit in
their seductive shade; with most dire results, as one is almost eaten
alive, and one envies the cattle who are being so assiduously attended
to by these kindly fly-catchers.

The Egret is one of the many birds that the dragoman makes the tourist
happy by calling "the Ibis," and the number that return to their friends
gleefully telling how they saw a flock of Ibises grows every season. In
the article on the Ibis it is shown how ludicrously untrustworthy is the
dragoman's Natural History information.

The Buff-backed Heron may often be seen flying up or down the river in
little parties of

[Illustration: BUFF-BACKED HERON]

five or six. They look snow-white, and are then hard to tell from
Spoonbill or Egret; but they ought not to be mistaken for the
first-named bird, for, being Herons, they fly as all Herons do, with
head tucked in, whilst the Spoonbill flies with extended neck. This is a
real resident bird. Captain Shelley says it breeds in August in large
colonies in the sont trees, and that, in addition to being useful to the
poor cattle, it is of the greatest use to Egypt, as it wages war on the
locusts that would otherwise devastate the green crops and all growing

I regret, however, that every year, according to the best evidence, this
bird is less and less seen. Twenty-five years ago it was to be met with,
off and on, everywhere, and in the Delta it was absolutely one of the
commonest of birds. The cause of its lessening numbers is not certain,
but when it is recalled that it is a form of Egret, and that from Egrets
come "aigrettes," one solution is apparent. Against that view, however,
in common justice, I must say that I have no scrap of evidence that
these birds are at all largely persecuted in Egypt, and they are, as
already said, a resident bird. Some undoubtedly migrate north; it may be
they never return, and so the annual decrease. Of the decrease there is
no doubt, and I have been told that now the natives--the men who till
the soil and benefit by its products--openly say that certain insect
pests the much-valued cotton suffers from nowadays is due, in their
opinion, to the reduced number of "little white birds" who used to come
in flocks, by hundreds, and search and find and devour these same insect


Nycticorax griseus

     Upper plumage dark to black, with blue-green reflections; two long
     plumes from head; white wings and tail grey; under-parts a grey
     buff-white; eyes crimson; young are dull grey and brown, mottled
     and spotted. Total length, 21 inches.

This is a really common bird, but being nocturnal it is not very often
noticed. Many a sont or palm tree that people walk under may have four
or five sitting so quietly among the branches that they are not
observed; but towards evening--before the sun has actually dropped
behind the horizon--they begin to waken up; and curious "squawk, squawk"
calls, then flappings about as they move from branch to branch, will be
heard, till, as the afterglow begins, they all start mounting into the
air and taking great circles round and round, or away in a bee-line to
some favourite feeding-ground, where they remain all night, and return
at dawn to their roosting-places. In some trees in the garden of the old
Luxor Hotel, there is, as I write in 1909, a colony--two of the trees
they roost in hang over the very carriage roadway up to the
station,--noisy and bustling for three months of the year, yet they
remain in this old-time haunt undisturbed by all the changes that have
taken place in this ancient town. Twenty-seven years ago I saw them
there, but I have met people who declare there never was a time known
when Night Herons did not frequent this spot. There is a certain seat on
the front where one enters the hotel grounds, that is under some Lebekh
trees these Herons love, and I was early in the season horrified to hear
that the order had gone out to shoot all those that were there, as they
sometimes soiled the monstrous hats that the ladies were wearing. I
appealed in vain to the management--"They had had so many complaints,"
etc.--it must be, and was. I never dared ask how many were shot; and I
really do not see why the ladies could not take their hats off, or else
put up parasols. Anyhow, just because of women's hats, an historic
colony of these interesting birds in a very remarkable situation has
been in danger of being driven away. This Heron is not nearly so big as
our own familiar bird, and is rather squat and dumpy in shape, but he is
a fascinating, rather weird-looking creature. Occasionally, one or two
stray as far as Great Britain; but here in Egypt it

[Illustration: NIGHT HERON]

is to be met with, where it establishes a colony, in quite large
numbers, and, in the report I have frequently referred to on wild birds
that visit the Giza Zoological Gardens, it is stated that "Night Herons
begin to arrive during August, winter here, and leave during the spring
months. A few individuals, however, are seen throughout the summer. The
number of these birds, which spend the daytime in the gardens, has
greatly increased during the last ten years. 108 were counted on January
15, 1900; 360 on December 11, 1902. At present it is impossible to count

All day long it sits moped up, out of the direct rays of the sun, in the
centre of a mass of overhanging foliage, and only wakes up when most
other birds are just falling to sleep. It feeds on fish, frogs, and even
water-beetles and insects.


Phoenicopterus antiquorum

Arabic, _Basharoush_

     On the head, neck, and body, in the adult, a delicate coral pink
     tints all the white: in younger birds these parts are pure white;
     large wing-feathers black, all the rest various tones of red, from
     a delicate rose to the deepest crimson; in young birds the wings
     are of an ashy brown; legs and base of bill in the adult a pink
     with a somewhat leaden hue; in young birds legs leaden; tip of bill
     black; eyes, straw-yellow. Total length, 45 inches.

If it were not for zoological collections few of us would be as familiar
with the form of this strange bird as we are--for though there are
thousands and thousands of them in Egypt, it is generally only seen when
flying in great flocks high overhead, and it does not often give a
chance of a close inspection. But owing to its peculiarities it is
always a favourite, and young as well as old are interested in its
extraordinary length of leg and neck, and charmed with its brilliant
rosy-red plumage, so that all know something of its appearance if they
do not know much of its life-history. The Flamingo loves most of all
shallow water, and lives nearly all its days in the great brackish lakes
of Lower Egypt.

[Illustration: FLAMINGO]

H.H. the Khedive being informed of my desire to visit the Flamingo
at its home in Lake Menzaleh, exceedingly kindly granted me special
facilities, and I was able to go from end to end of this great lake and
from side to side, visiting every place where they were to be found. I
was allowed the use of one of the coastguard dahabeahs. These boats are
built on the lines of the native fishing-boats; being practically
flat-bottomed they draw but little water, which is necessary, as the
lake for its size is very shallow. It is this shallowness which makes
Menzaleh such a happy hunting-ground for all water-birds. It fairly
teems with birds; in February there are literally millions of Duck
there, with Cormorants, Pelicans, Herons, Flamingoes, and Waders of
every sort. In March they lessen in numbers, many only using it as a
place to spend a few weeks at before going north to their summer homes,
and by the time April comes there are not an overwhelming number; but
the Flamingoes keep there as a feeding-ground nearly all the year round,
and it was to see if they had their nesting-quarters there that I went
to Menzaleh early this year, 1909.

You cannot be long on the lake before you begin to understand why birds
love it so, for as you sail along you frequently see, first here, then
there, fish jumping out of the water, and when you look into the
shallows in all directions you see shoals of little fishes. Then the
number of fishing-boats, with their great nets picturesquely hung up to
dry, is another visible evidence of the teeming myriads of fish that
this saltish-water lake contains. The first Flamingoes I saw were in the
centre of a large flock of tufted Ducks. Leaving the dahabeah I got into
the small boat and quickly paddled towards them, but they would not
allow of a very near approach before up got the Duck, and then in
another moment the Flamingoes, who had up to then been feeding with
heads down in the water, were all on the wing--to rise they faced for
one minute in my direction, and the great mass of crimson feathers under
the wings made a most gorgeous spectacle against the blue sky; then they
swung round, and more white than red was visible, and quickly in a long
irregular line they were away to some less disturbed place. Only once
did I get really close up to one, and I found out afterwards by the
hanging leg that it only allowed me to because it was some poor crippled
bird. They are so shot at and persecuted generally that they are now
exceedingly shy, and in spite of the good feeding they get here it is
surprising they still keep to these waters in the numbers they do. At a
town called Matariya I visited a great local bird-dealer, one Angelino
Tedeschi. His place was on the outskirts of the town, and was a
collection of tumble-down shanties made of straw, matting, and boards.
Behind his own dwelling, which was literally worse than any Irish cabin,
were three enclosures made of tall reeds and split palm branches about
eight feet high, with more open lattice-work on the top; in these
enclosures were fully fifty to sixty Flamingoes. I walked right in, and
the birds did not stampede or dash themselves about, yet Angelino said
they had not long been caught. They were all in surprisingly good
condition, considering their numbers and cramped space. A door at one
end was opened and they filed out into the adjoining enclosure to have
their bath--a very dirty, muddy hole in the sodden ground, but they
seemed to enjoy it; one after the other, and sometimes two or three at a
time, all went in, and drank and splashed about, trumpeting a little,
and then they were driven back. I bought a particularly
brilliant-coloured one which had died that day, for the price the man
asked, three shillings, which seemed to me very cheap, as it was in
perfect order. I wanted one to make detailed studies of, and I took it
back to the boat with me, and worked from this poor bird till all the
crew covered their noses with their hands as they came near my model,
and I myself could stand it no longer, and it was tossed over as food
for the fishes, who later again would be food for others of its own
kindred. Scattered about Angelino's quarters were curious high crates
made of split palm branches and lined with canvas. Asking what they were
for, I was told they were the cages for the poor birds to be sent
away--"to America," he said--and I could get no more out of him. We
learned this man comes every winter from Alexandria, settles down in
these remarkable quarters, and buys his Flamingoes from the local
fishermen, who vary their ordinary pursuit by catching duck and any
wildfowl that they can net, and the result is that, though years ago
Flamingoes did nest on the lake, now not one does.

The form of the bill in the Flamingo always suggests a man with a broken
nose. The angular fall-back of the bill is nearly as singular as the
upturned one of the Avocet. As the Flamingo obtains its insect and other
food from the water, and the inside of its peculiar-shaped bill with
which it has to obtain this food is provided with a tooth-like serrated
margin like a duck's, it follows that to get the water into its mouth it
has to walk as shown in the illustration with its bill turned backwards.
This position I do not think is adopted by any other living bird, and is
the one outstanding individual peculiarity the Flamingo possesses. When
seen thus feeding it is far from graceful; the long neck is straightened
out, and the top of the head is to the front in the direction of which
it is moving, and the bill is pointed backwards towards the tail.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.]


Porphyrio Madagascariensis

Arabic, _Digmeh_

     Whole plumage ultramarine blue shading into black, and on the back
     shading into bluish-green; white under-tail; frontal and bill
     blood-red, as are legs and feet; claws black; eye, deep
     crimson-brown. Total length, 18 inches.

We have included this bird, as it is perhaps as handsome as any in all
Egypt, but it may be questioned whether many of our readers will come
across it, for it lives in dense reed beds which grow in the large lakes
of the Delta and Fayoom, and rarely quits them for the waters of the
Nile. Our own Waterhen, or Moorhen, is a sort of near cousin of this
bird, but whereas our bird always gives the impression of being animated
and cheery, this Egyptian Gallinule somehow looks depressed in spite of
its brilliant plumage; and when it walks, it does so with no indecent
haste, but slowly lifts one leg whilst the long toes hang loosely, and
then gently places it down on the ground, all the while holding its head
and body nearly perpendicularly, whilst, when not taking this strenuous
exercise, it


sits with rounded shoulders on some stump or dead herbage by the
hour together. As its food seems to consist almost entirely of the inner
and soft parts of the shoots of reeds and other water-plants amongst
which it lives all its days, it does not have to make any special effort
to obtain food, and conceivably it may be one of those birds which are
on a slow downward grade towards extinction. There can be little doubt
but that the matter of food-supply has led many birds to alter their
methods of life. In some cases, finding an abundance of food ever ready
to hand, the use of the wings was abandoned, and with the inevitable
result that just as they ceased to fly so the wings ceased growing, till
at last they became flightless birds and at the mercy of each and every
enemy that might attack them. It may be that thinking on these things
has made the bird melancholy and depressed; but nothing can save it but
"bucking up" and using its powers. Mr. Erskine Nicol told me how once,
when out shooting, he saw one in a cornfield near a stack; he went
towards it and the bird ran behind the stack; when he followed, it would
not leave the friendly shelter, but by simply running round and round
always kept safe. Mr. Nicol at last got tired of this useless chase and
thought out a plan of campaign. Starting faster than ever, he ran round
after the bird, and then suddenly turned and ran round the opposite way,
when he met the melancholy Gallinule full face; and so flustered it that
it left the stack and flew at right angles away, giving a possible shot,
which was taken advantage of. On another occasion one was seen swimming
in a miserable little duck-pond outside a village, tenanted by tame
ducks, and the Gallinule absolutely refused to leave the sheltering
society of these farmyard birds. Both these incidents seem to point to
the same sort of method of life: "just sit tight, don't fly into the
open, risk nothing in the outside world, there are unknown dangers": so
it may be that this bird will sit, and sit, all humped up in its reed
jungle till at last it loses the power of flight altogether; and then,
before long, it will certainly fall a prey to some force or enemy which
it has no power of resisting or escaping from. Mr. J. H. Gurney has also
written of this bird, that just in the early morning or towards sunset
he has seen it leave the shelter of these great reed-beds, but keeping
quite close thereto, and at the least sign of danger running back to
them. Seldom or never has he seen it take even a flight of a few yards.
Along with its vegetable food it takes a certain number of small
aquatic insects, and when this food cannot be obtained it is not averse
to good hard grain of any kind. It lays six to eight eggs, which are
ruddy-brown spotted with dark purple-brown.


Fulica atra

     General plumage a dark grey, almost sooty, but which in the
     sunlight shows a delicate, almost lilac sheen; head black; and the
     neck graduates from black into the general grey of body; beak,
     white with a tinge of warm colour in it; the frontal shield is pure
     ivory white; legs, greenish-grey; eyes, reddish-brown. Length, 16

This is a common bird, and though nearly all migrate, I believe a few
remain to breed in exceptionally favourable places, as I have heard that
it has been observed throughout the summer months on certain waters.

It is the same bird we get in Britain, and behaves in identically the
same way. On preserved waters, as for instance the Sacred Lake at
Karnak, where every one may see it, it is, as it is at home, very tame,
and rarely takes wing more than from one side to the other of the lake,
and if you move quietly, or remain sitting for any length of time, they
allow of a very near approach, and come swimming quite close up.
Sometimes I have had them walk on to the bank within a few yards of me
and start to preen their feathers. If at such a time the sun is shining
brightly on them, this bird, which is generally described as being
"black with a white bill," is seen to be a most delightful, almost
dove-like coloured creature with jet black glossy head, and the neck
with a blue or purple sheen. It is sociable, and though sometimes it has
some small squabble with a neighbour, it is in the main seemingly a
cheery, good-tempered bird. Although it is not often seen to fly far, it
can and does fly enormous distances and at a very great pace. The Coot
does not belong to the Duck tribe; it has not true webbed feet, but the
web follows the line of the toes on each side. Sometimes it goes in very
large flocks, running into thousands, and I have heard of large bags
being made; but it seems rather a useless performance, as it is not a
good bird for the table by any means, being very fishy flavoured, so
fishy that it used to be allowed to be eaten as "fish" on holy days in
French convents and monasteries. Its food seems to consist principally
of aquatic weeds and grasses, and small fish and water creatures, and
when it comes on shore it searches for insects and small slugs and
snails, as it grazes goose-like on the young tender blades of grass.

The nest and eggs of the Coot are very like those of the common


Chenalopex aegyptiacus

     Centre of head light brown; upper part of throat and cheeks white,
     shading into brown; forehead, round the eye, and neck, a chestnut
     bright brown; upper parts of back, chest, and flanks, reddish buff,
     with dusky bars; large wing-feathers black; a metallic green bar
     crosses wing; lower half of back and tail black; a deep chocolate
     patch on centre of breast; centre of abdomen white; under-tail
     coverts buff; legs, dark pink; beak, dull flesh colour; eyes brown.
     Total length, 26 inches.

The Egyptian Goose is a handsomely coloured bird, and when seen sunning
itself on some sandbank it makes a brilliant picture. It is a real
native of the Nile, and breeds in the early spring--March and April; and
sportsmen's records tell of its being a quite shootable bird in the
first weeks of May. In 1907, only a quarter of a mile from the busiest
part of Luxor, there might have been seen daily a charming little
flotilla of the parents and four young ones swimming about round the
promontory of land that there juts out. They had nested in the
cultivation that at that point comes down to the very water's edge. This
is the ideal position they love, as they can, on the approach of danger,
slip at once into the water, where they are

[Illustration: EGYPTIAN GEESE]

comparatively safe. Many, who may not see this bird on the river,
have probably often seen it at home, as it is frequently kept with other
water-fowl on the ornamental waters of our parks. It is not a lively
bird, and seems to spend a large part of the day standing in a
hunched-up attitude on some sandbank, well in the middle of the stream,
from which position it can see the approach of any enemy. In captivity
it is rather morose, and fierce with any smaller fowl it can safely
bully. It lives on all sorts of water-insects and weeds, and makes
excursions at night-time to the fields and cultivated grounds for grass
and corn.

[Illustration: FIG. 10.]

Probably no single work of art in all Egypt has been more widely copied
than the picture of geese which is now in the Museum at Cairo. It came
from the tomb of Ne fer ma[=a]t at Mêdûm, and is universally known as
"the oldest picture in the world," for it is ascribed to the earliest
dynasty, and approximately about 4400 B.C. To a naturalist it is
peculiarly interesting, but the interest is linked with sadness, as the
subject of the picture being entirely of bird-life, one would have
thought that bird-life would be a subject of continued interest; but the
reverse is very much the case, so much so, that though this very picture
is known to thousands who have never been to Egypt, and many thousands
more who have been to Egypt and gone to see this very picture, and
bought photographs or copies of it, few or any have really interest
enough in it even to learn or inquire what are the names of the geese
depicted. In the very rough little sketch on p. 175 the two geese at the
extreme right and left are Bean Geese, birds that one might expect the
old-time artist to be familiar with, and the same is true of the two
geese in the left-hand group, which are White-fronted Geese, as both are
winter migrants to Egypt, remaining till March. Of the two remaining
birds, from their markings the naturalist will have no doubt but that
they are Red-breasted Geese; and there is a mystery, as they never come
to Egypt, and being a northern bird, one is utterly at a loss to explain
why the artist of that long-distant date should depict that special
Goose. That he did see the bird, and with fidelity drew it, are facts,
and one can only conclude that zoological collections are no new thing,
but that men, nearly six thousand years ago, must have kept rare birds
in captivity for the pleasure of their beauty, and that artists went to
their zoological gardens or collections, and drew pictures of the
inhabitants of far-distant climes for the walls of their temples or
tombs. As a realistic study of bird-life this little picture is
admirable, the set of the head and peculiar curve of the Feeding Geese
is singularly true, whilst the whole is carried through in a broad
decorative spirit. It is curious that in a country where the earliest
art took subjects from Nature, there should now be such absolute apathy
that in many cases the people have no separate names for the birds
around them. Egypt has other geese that visit it, but none others native
to it. The White-fronted Goose is said to be the most abundant of all,
the Brent Goose and the Bean Goose, all three visiting the Nile and
Delta in the winter months.

[Illustration: FIG. 11.]


Dafila acuta

     Plumage of back and flanks grey; the large scapulars are
     long-pointed and edged with buff; brilliant metallic green bar on
     wing; head brown; neck and under-parts white; the tail long, and
     two centre feathers very narrow and longer than the rest; beak
     slate-grey; legs black; eyes brown. The female is a plain, mottled
     brown bird, tail pointed but not so long as the drake. Entire
     length, 23 inches.

At different times of the year different birds come in gigantic flocks.
Thus at one time, owing to the vast migration of these Pintail-Ducks, it
might well be said they were far and away the commonest; but a little
later you hardly see one, and wherever you go it is the Shoveller Duck
that is met with, whilst at another time it would be the Teal, or the
Pochard. So that to settle the point exactly--What is the commonest duck
of the country?--is not altogether an easy one, and I do not intend to
speak dogmatically; but I have placed this duck first on the list,
because not only do you meet with it in enormous numbers, but you also
see it represented more frequently on the walls of temples and tombs.
The well-known hieroglyph


of a duck under a circle, which is translated as the Son of the
Sun, was doubtless meant to represent this particular bird. Very
often--not always--where the workmanship is of the finest and of a good
period, the characteristics are exact, and the long pintail feathers are
most plainly shown. Now, no duck that comes to this country has a long
tail, other than the Pintail, therefore there can be no question that
these old-time artists, for some reason best known to themselves,
selected from all the various ducks they have, just this particular one
to symbolize this royal conception. It is also shown on many
wall-paintings in the tombs, flying with the tail spread, and the two
long central feathers well marked. Going up the Nile sometimes you pass
great high bare sandbanks which have on the other side of them long
narrow strips of shallow pools; here, at certain times, is the place to
see duck in their thousands--literally thousands. There they sit secure;
the high bank screens them from the river-way with its great
sailing-boats and modern steamers; they can see the tops of the spars
and masts and the black smoke from the steamers' funnels, but neither
boat nor steamer can see them. If you attempt an approach by land you
can rarely surprise them, as they always have sentinels well posted up
and down the reach of water, and a warning quack and all heads are up on
a flash; and if the quack has had a certain intonation they are all up
and away at once. Then it is, if you are shooting, that you may, if you
keep quiet, get a shot as they return sweeping down and round the water,
which they will not completely leave unless very frightened. I have
looked on to pools of this sort which have been absolutely black with
birds, and amongst the whole, nine-tenths would be Pintail. Later it
might be, at that same pool, all would be Shovellers or Pochard. The
Pintail is what is known as a surface-feeding duck, and is placed near
the common Wild Duck, the Mallard of English waters. It is distinctly
peculiar in form; the neck is long, and when alarmed the head is held
high, and the whole neck looks very thin. These characters, as well as
the long pintail, are well shown at Deir-el-Bahari and other temples,
where the wall-painting is of a really good period, and from the
frequency of its pictures one can only suppose that it was as common all
those years ago as it is to-day. The Zoological Gardens at Cairo are
visited nearly every winter by a few Pintails. They feed on grass and
water-weeds, and all the teeming larva of flies and other insects that
haunt shallow pools and puddles.


Spatula clypeata

     Plumage of back brown, becoming black as it approaches the tail,
     which is also black with white edging to outer feathers; head and
     neck black with green metallic lustre; chest and lower parts white;
     the scapulars, long and pointed, are blue and black and white; wing
     has a metallic green bar, the small covert feathers are a very
     delicate blue-grey, and the flight feathers are dark brown; the
     breast and flanks are a brilliant chestnut; legs orange; beak
     black; eyes brown. The female is a dull brown colour with dark
     spots, and its bill often has looked to me even larger than the
     male's. Length, 20·5 inches.

The outstanding peculiarity of the Shoveller, male and female, is the
large bill. Seen very near at hand it looks both large and clumsy, but
it is a bill not made for ornament but for business, and carried low so
that it just sweeps the water. As it swims along, a never-ending flow of
insect-laden water enters it, and filtering through the plate-like
serrations of the sides, leaves a rich deposit of food in the duck's
mouth, and clearly the bigger the bill the more the water that can be
filtered and dealt with, and the greater the consequent food-supply for
the duck.

It is a really handsome bird in colour, the peculiar mass of light lilac
blue-grey feathers of the wing contrasting vividly with the chestnut of
the sides. Indeed, I do not know any duck that is superior to it in its
vividly contrasting coloration. Although it is in form clumsy-looking,
it is anything but clumsy or slow in getting up and on the wing, and I
own to having been beaten often at pools similar to those described in
reference to the Pintail, by the quickness and pace of its flight. The
last visit I paid to the Cairo Zoological Gardens in March 1909, the
ornamental waters there were crowded with duck, nearly all Shovellers.
All had come in of their own accord, flew freely, and would, so Mr.
Nicoll informed me, shortly all be up and away till another season came
round. And in the most interesting report of the _Wild Birds of the Giza
Gardens_ just published, figures are given. "A few Shovellers arrive, in
some years, as early as August, and they become more and more numerous
during the autumn and winter. Some leave here in March, but the majority
do so in April." "Up to 1902 twenty was the largest number of Shovellers
seen, at one time, on our lake. On the 18th of January 1903, 171 were
counted; on the 6th of March 1905, 443. Since then it is estimated that
over 500 Shovellers take up their winter quarters with us."


Querquedula crecca

Arabic, _Sharshare_

     Head and neck chestnut-brown; a patch of green encircles the eyes
     and cheeks, a light buff streak divides the green from the brown;
     neck, back, and flanks grey, composed of delicate alternate black
     and white wavy lines. Scapulars white with rich black on their
     outer webs; green metallic bar on wing; under-parts white; breast
     spotted with buffish-black; under-tail coverts a clear, brilliant
     yellow-buff; beak and legs black; eyes brown. The female looks
     smaller than the male, and is a sober-coloured brown bird, with
     darker, almost black, markings. Length, 15·5 inches.

As far as my own experience goes, I have never seen any really large
flock of duck, of whatever kind, but there have been Teal among them. I
do not care to say that I think this is the very commonest of all the
duck tribe. It is certainly met with very frequently, but Captain
Shelley holds that it is absolutely "the most abundant species of
water-fowl throughout Egypt," and possibly he is right. It is the same
smart little bird we have at home, and the male has, when showing off, a
most attractive appearance, of which it is fully aware, as is shown by
its jaunty carriage. Of all duck, this is the quickest off the mark; how
it does it one can hardly see, but it leaves the water in one second,
apparently at top speed, as if it had been going for some minutes. As
with the Shoveller this duck comes in great numbers to the Cairo
Zoological Gardens, and the ready intelligence it shows in remaining in
full sight of men and flying close over their heads whilst in the
Gardens, and the wary care it shows the moment it is outside the
sanctuary, is most interesting. On wall-paintings I am told it is
depicted, but I am not certain that I have ever seen its small form
shown; in the matter of relative size of living and other objects, these
old craftsmen were curiously capricious. A notable illustration of this
is in the way they portrayed the wives of the heroic Rameses statues,
where you will find the lady shown coming up only to the knee-joint of
her gigantic lord and master. When they treated royal ladies in this
way, it is useless to expect great accuracy in the matter of rendering
the various relative sizes of humble water-fowl! Teal may be seen in
nearly all the winter months amongst the Coot at the Sacred Lake at
Karnak, and at many other places guarded by the Antiquities Department.
Mr. Nicoll writes: "Several hundred Teal winter on the lake in the
Gardens (Zoological). In some years a few of them arrive as early as the
latter part of August, and they have been known to stay as late as the
8th of May."


Pelecanus Onocrotalus

     General colour of plumage a rosy white; the larger flight-feathers
     of wing, black; beak grey; pouch, a bright yellow; eyes red. Entire
     length, 60 inches.

The Pelican has the honour of being, in Egypt, as far as sheer length of
wing goes, the largest bird that flies; for the span of wings from tip
to tip has been recorded as twelve feet. I believe the span of the
Griffon Vulture is only about eight feet. Thirty years ago Pelicans were
more often seen than they are to-day. This does not necessarily mean
that they are less numerous, but only that, from some cause or another,
they do not come within range of observation. I think the traffic on the
river having so altered is the probable explanation. I can only recall
one case of late, of seeing Pelican on a sandbank, and that was very
early in the morning, practically daybreak. Years ago it was not an
uncommon thing to see hundreds resting and recruiting on some lonely
reach of the river. Captain Shelley says that in "April 1870, below
Edfoo, we met with an immense flock of several

[Illustration: WHITE PELICANS]

thousands, passing low along the river on their way north, and
although fired at several times they still kept streaming onwards in one
continuous flock." Nowadays you will quite possibly see immense flocks
going south in November, or north in the spring, but they will all be
flying high and well out of gun-shot. The largest flock I ever saw was
in December of 1907 when living at Deir-el-Bahari. I was working outside
the hut there, when some noise made me look up, and I saw an amazing
sight, hundreds and hundreds of these great birds flying round and round
in circles high above the chalk cliff. This was about 2 P.M., and they
remained thus slowly circling round and round till nearly 5 P.M., when
gradually in small detachments they dwindled away, flying in a southerly
direction. At times they came sufficiently low for me to see distinctly
the yellow pouch hanging from the under-bill, but then again they would
rise in great spiral curves to such a height that even with my pet glass
they were almost invisible. With every new curve they showed some
alteration of colour, so that sometimes they seemed a coral pink all
over, and then again with some altered angle in relation to the sun they
were a pure snow white. The two hours or more that they were over just
this one spot where Queen Hatshepsut's temple stands, I worked hard at
trying to sketch them till my eyes got blinded by staring up into the
blue, and aching with trying to follow some individual bird sweeping
right above my head. None but those who have tried it knows what an
exhausting thing this is; every bird is changing its place continually,
one after another comes sweeping by, turning, rising, falling,
interlacing, till one has to absolutely cease looking and close one's
weary eyes. I heard later the rumour that this great flock rested the
night on the top of one of the hills a mile farther back, and at dawn
were all away south.

Where, however, they can be still seen throughout the winter months and
comparatively close at hand is on Lake Menzaleh. I saw them there in
March, but by the 12th of April I could not see a single bird. The
wonderful colour, a pale coral pink, that they show under the bright
Egyptian sky, is something of a surprise to those who have only seen
faded stuffed specimens in a museum, or the woebegone individuals in a
menagerie. No one interested in birds should neglect the Cairo
Zoological Gardens at Giza; there you will see all sorts of hot climate
beasts and birds in the perfection of condition that they never show in
our colder climes. And the colour that the Pelican displays under these
perfect conditions is a revelation. To the most casual it appears
pinkish, but to the artistic and observant the brilliance of the
carmine-pink revealed in the shadows, and the shell-like delicacy of
colour of the feathers seen in full sunlight, is simply charming. I
regret, however, that no amount of artistic enthusiasm can ever find
anything else to praise in its personal appearance, as it really is most
desperately ugly. It is said, however, to be virtuous, and is to this
day used as a symbol of beautiful self-sacrifice, and as an
ecclesiastical emblem of the feeding of the Holy Catholic Church.[7]

 [7] I regret, however, to have to write that this idea of
 self-sacrifice is really all bunkum. The tradition is, that when hard
 up, and the offspring were calling out for the food that was not, the
 mother bird would lacerate her own bosom and with her own life-blood
 feed and save her loved ones. Ages ago some poor, short-sighted man
 got this extraordinary notion from apparently watching the way the
 young are fed. The Pelican belongs to an order of birds that disgorges
 the food it has caught, in this case fish, into the upturned mouths
 of the young. Had this first short-sighted one only known that the
 Pelican's Hebrew name Kâath means "to vomit," this bird would hardly
 have been accredited with virtues it does not possess, or been
 painted, sculptured, and enshrined in thousands of holy places.

As a child I was much troubled with "the Pelican in the wilderness," but
recently have been greatly relieved to hear, on the best authority, that
though it says "wilderness" quite distinctly, it doesn't, you know,
mean wilderness at all; the ordinary wilderness means a sandy, deserty
sort of place, but this wilderness, we are told, means a wet sort of
watery place. How nice it is to have these clear explanations from the
best authorities of all those mysteries that darkened our early years!
The Pelican lives entirely on fish, and is therefore never far from
water. Considering its rather clumsy form it is fairly agile, and it has
been noted that it can and does perch freely on boughs that bend and
swing with its weight when at large, and that in captivity at the London
Zoological Gardens one habitually used to perch on the thin corrugated
wire fence that bisects their small enclosure, an almost acrobatic feat
one would not have expected it capable of performing.

In books the statement has been made and often repeated that the Pelican
breeds in Egypt, and my visit to Lake Menzaleh was very much taken just
to settle whether it and Flamingoes did or did not breed there. I found
they did not, and I should think it is very unlikely that they ever did,
as though the lake is large the fact that fishermen's boats go all over
it would hardly make it a safe place for these big birds ever to nest


Phalacrocorax carbo

Arabic, _Agag_

     Plumage dark bluish-black over head, breast, body; dull
     greenish-brown on wings, each feather margined with a darker tone;
     a pure white patch on cheeks, and another on the flanks; feathers
     on top of head elongated and edged with white; beak black at tip,
     yellow at base; part of the pouch which is without feathers, blue;
     legs black; eyes green. Length, 36 inches.

This is not a bird one would expect to see far away from the salt water,
but there is anyhow one colony of them up the Nile at Gebel Abû
Fêada--and any one going up the Nile must pass right by their
breeding-place--and the birds in general seem to work rather south of
that point than to the north. In March 1908 I saw them twice; once, near
Manfalût, a string of six flew low over the water in single file so near
that one could with the glass see the very hook at the end of their long
bills. Perhaps no point on the river is quite so magnificent as these
cliffs of Abû Fêada--the water rushes by their very feet, and their tops
tower high in beautifully broken forms. The limestones of which they
are formed seem to have weathered and perished more than in other parts,
and honeycombed masses, and caves large and small, are visible
everywhere on its nearly perpendicular sides. It is in these caves that
birds have found a happy nesting-ground, and the extent of the deposit
of guano in them shows that they have inhabited them for centuries.

The guide-books tell of these high cliffs--"sudden gusts of wind from
the mountain often render great precaution necessary in sailing beneath
them"; and on the last occasion of passing there was evidence of this,
as a regular gale came on us just as we were passing and drove us along
at a great pace. This wildness is similar to the wild windiness of the
sea-coast, and the Cormorants may in this fact find some attraction to
this inland home. But I should think it is far more likely still, that
the founders of that colony were birds that had been reared in some of
the other breeding-places that exist in the great Salt Lakes of Lower
Egypt, and that by some chance taking to the river, which at Menzaleh
would not be more than a mile or two away, found that the river fish
were excellent, that life was pleasant, and the cliffs suitable for
safely nesting in. "Stomach rules the world" is

[Illustration: CORMORANTS

On the Nile at Gebel Aboofayda.]

as true of bird life as any other. Elsewhere I have referred to
the beauty and charm of Lake Menzaleh to all naturalists, and I do
really think that to get anything like a complete view of Egyptian bird
life a visit ought to be paid to some one or other of the lakes, and of
course Menzaleh is far and away the best and biggest. But though I
suggest a visit, I would not care to have it understood I recommend it
as a health resort or place to live in. I write this here, because there
are two considerable Cormorant rookeries or breeding-stations that I
visited on Lake Menzaleh--there may be others I did not find, but these
two I did find, and they will ever live in my memory as the most
poisonous plots of earth I have ever stood on. I have been to Cormorant
rookeries before, and well know that they don't smell like rose-gardens.
The peculiarity of this great lake is, that it is, and always has been,
a great drainage-bed for the whole of Egypt. The result of having been a
drainage-bed for all these untold years is that when you stick a pole,
or your oar, into the mud and then pull it out, you seem to all at once
take the cork out of a bottle containing the most appalling stinks and
gases that ever were engendered. One day I was stalking Cormorants on a
long flat island of irregular shape, and came to a point where I had to
cross about ten or fifteen yards of water. The island was in the middle
of the lake, and far away from town or village, and without thinking of
consequences I took my boots off and started to wade across. The first
step or two was on the shallow shelly shore, but three or four feet and
I sank into mud, and as at each step I lifted my feet I let loose ten
thousand legions of ancient stinks, the water bubbled and fizzled with
them, and even slimy, blear-eyed, unwholesome fish slunk hurriedly away.
Reaching the other side, I looked for some clean water to wash my feet,
and did so; but it was awkward, as I had to hold my boots and socks in
one hand and my nose in the other; but wash as I would the atrocious
smell would not go, and I declined to put those evil-smelling things
into my boots, and I couldn't take my feet off; so there I was--the
whole island was a swamp, couldn't sit down anywhere, all puddles and
wet, and the more I dabbled and washed the more it seemed to stir up new
combinations of flavours never before conceived. So I shouted and
shouted, and at last one of the crew heard, and brought out the small
boat and rescued me; most mercifully I had carbolic soap with me, and so
managed to at last get clean. The lake is nowhere very deep, but is
absolutely full of fish; you constantly see them jumping out of the
water for a breath of fresh air, and I don't blame them. The pools have
crowds of small fry, and the larvæ of thousands of insects; indeed, it
is "a heaven for mosquitoes and a damp hell for men." It is this
extraordinary profusion of life bred in the water that causes it to be
such a fine feeding-ground for the birds, but everything that comes out
of that lake is slimy and smelling. In April, when I was at Menzaleh,
the birds had not begun nesting, but there was every sign of quite a big
Cormorant colony. I counted the sites of more than twenty nests on one
island alone, and I saw Cormorants off and on nearly every day of my two
weeks' stay.

Needless to say, the Cormorant is entirely a fish-feeding bird, and
usually lives on or near the sea. The fact that a colony has been for so
long now established up the river is certainly interesting, and it will
be curious to see if these new great water-works do cause any further
extension of their area. Mr. Erskine Nicol told me he saw two Cormorants
flying down the river in February of this year (1909), at Luxor--one was
an adult bird showing a very white head,--and that within his seventeen
years of residence he did not think he had ever seen them so far up as
Luxor before. The young birds have no pure white on the head, and have
the breast a more or less dull greyish-white.


Larus fuscus

     Back and wings dark slaty blackish grey; primaries black, with a
     large white spot on first primary near the point; rest of plumage
     pure white; legs and gill yellow, latter with a red spot on lower
     mandible; eyes yellow, eyelids red. Length, 23 inches.

In all probability whenever a gull is seen it is most likely to be this
one, as in my experience throughout Egypt it is, I think, the commonest
of all. The next in order is the Black-headed Gull, but, unfortunately,
in the winter months it is without its black cap, which causes it to
escape notice.

The Gulls do on the water what the Kites do on the land--they act as
scavengers; and it matters not whether you are arriving at Alexandria or
on board a steamer at Assoan, you will, alike from end to end of Egypt,
find these birds busy, searching for every scrap of waste thrown into
the river, which river is the main drain of the country. The use that
these birds are is therefore enormous, and they, in common with Vultures
and Kites, ought to be protected and on no account shot. This year of
1909 I have seen more of these three species shot than ever before. The
wily native who stalks up and down outside hotels with a gun slung over
his shoulder, and seizes on unwary newcomers with great promises of
apocryphal quail- and snipe-shooting, frequently--so that his patron
shall not come home without any bag at all--suggests shooting every poor
inoffensive bird within range. That done, the poor Kite or Gull is borne
home, and laid out on the hotel steps for the further honour, glory, and
kudos of the native shekarry.

It should always be remembered that the immature birds of most species
differ materially from the adult: this is the case with all the Gulls,
and, I own, makes their identification a matter of considerable
difficulty. In the young there is no pure white and pearly grey plumage,
but they are dirty-coloured, brown-spotted, rather uninteresting-looking
birds, but as they have just as ravenous an appetite as their parents,
and as they satisfy that appetite with the filth that is thrown out of a
scavenger's basket, they are fully as useful as the more attractively
plumaged adults. Where they can get it, they like fish before anything,
be it the sprat of the clear ocean water, or the sweepings of the
fish-market. At Damietta, where there is a great


On the river at Cairo.]

fish-market and salted fish is sent away all over Egypt, the offal
from the gutted fish is simply thrown out on to the shore, and work as
hard as the Gulls do, they cannot clear all away that is daily added to
this pestilential heap. Wherever Gulls come into a scene they add a sort
of lightness and brightness to it. This is often felt at sea, where,
after days and days of dreary water, at last some Gulls appear and give
the needed brightening touch, and wherever they are seen their white
wings make a charming point of contrast. Those who know London know what
a boon they are to the leaden Thames, and even in sunny Egypt they are a
welcome addition to river scenery.


Larus ridibundus

     General plumage white below, wings a delicate lavender grey, the
     large flight-feathers black and white at their tips; head and
     throat in breeding dress, a dark brown, in winter white; legs and
     beak red; eyes brown. Length, 15 inches.

This ought to be called the Brown-headed Gull, as the colour is never
black. In winter the whole head is practically white, and it is in that
plumage that most visitors to Egypt will alone see it.

It is a very lively little Gull; its flight is much lighter than the
preceding, and when several are together they can hardly ever keep quiet
for long, but from time to time give vent to their peculiar cry, which
by some has been likened to the sound of laughter.

Captain Shelley says that, in a year where there was a terrible scourge
of locusts, these Gulls were present in large flocks busily engaged in
devouring these mischievous insects. In that way, and in the ordinary
scavenger work that they share with all other Gulls, they are of great
use to the country and should be protected.

I have seen them in ones and twos everywhere up and down the river, but
the larger flocks are only to be seen at the great lakes of the Fayoum
or along the coast, and I particularly remember, because of the
weirdness of the surroundings, one occasion when I saw large flocks on
the shores of the Red Sea. It was at Kosseir, and the coast there is
alternately gently shelving sandy shore, and jutting-out, flat-topped
rocky reefs. To one of these reefs I went as the tide was leaving them
exposed, whilst flocks of Gulls and Waders were waiting for their
evening meal.

The rock plateau going right out to sea was a coral reef, and the way
in which pools led one into another by tunnels was most strange. Then
the depths of some were great, as I found by sounding with a long rod,
and some were past all sounding and seemed bottomless. It was evening
when I got there, and soon became dark night, and it was then that the
peculiar beauty of these pools came out, whilst the great flocks of
Gulls and some Duck found new delights in them as the receding sea gave
them more feeding-ground. Every pool was lighted up by the strange
glowing eyes of some cuttle-fish--ever-moving, these jewel-like
blue-green lights went passing round and round, sometimes the one
becoming two as a turn of its head permitted my seeing both eyes, and
then with another curve the two were one. Sometimes these strange lights
were very very faint, but as I stood still they came nearer and nearer,
and with my eyes riveted on them a most curious illusion followed.
Nearer, nearer, stronger, more strong, these strange weird eyes advanced
and crept up farther and farther, till time after time it was hard to
believe that these glowing orbs had not left the water and were
advancing right up to my own face. All the time the quiet of the place
was only broken by the curious laughing-like call of the Gulls, and the
shrill piping and whistling of the dark, shadowy shore birds.

Besides Gulls, the visitors to the Nile may see Terns, for there are
some seven or eight species, but naturally these birds keep nearer the
sea than elsewhere, yet it is pleasant to cherish the hope, founded on
frequent reports, that Terns as well as several other birds that love
the water are somewhat extending their area. Owing to the new barrage
schemes making great permanent inland lakes which never existed before,
the birds find a new home suitable to them, and which they have already
begun to show they thoroughly appreciate. At home and in many other
countries, the great reservoirs which supply the cities have always been
favourite bird haunts, and it seems that here is one more benefit
bestowed on Egypt consequent on British occupation. When at Lake
Menzaleh this last winter, one of the most wonderful sights was the
number of Terns, and on one occasion when I was trying to get near to
Flamingo, a great flock of many hundreds of the large Caspian Tern came
near enough for identification.


Although the scope of this work is only to point out, by pictures, to
the unlearned what birds he will most likely see during a winter in
Egypt, yet I have felt that it would be wise to give a list of all the
birds, as far as known; for some, turning to these pages, may desire to
learn if some one or other bird which they did not see amongst my
necessarily limited selection of pictured birds, was an Egyptian bird or
not. In the preparation of this list, it goes without saying, I have
been constantly indebted to that book, _A Handbook to the Birds of
Egypt_, which, published so long ago as 1872 by Captain C. E. Shelley,
still remains the one classic on this subject, and I have adopted, as
far as possible, his names for all the birds mentioned. In addition,
year after year, some small knowledge has accumulated of new birds, not
known in that day to visit this country, and I am particularly indebted
to Mr. M. J. Nicoll, assistant-director of the Government Zoological
Gardens, Giza, for helping me to make this list as complete as possible.


     1. The Golden Eagle (_Aquila fulva_). Rare, Upper and Lower Egypt.

     2. The Imperial Eagle (_Aquila imperialis_). Lower Egypt.

     3. White-tailed Eagle (_Haliaetus albicilla_). Lower Egypt.

     4. Tawny Eagle (_Aquila naevoides_). Rare, Upper and Lower Egypt.

     5. Spotted Eagle (_Aquila naevia_). Not very uncommon in both.

     6. Bonelli's Eagle (_Aquila bonelli_). Very rare.

     7. Booted Eagle (_Aquila tennata_). A summer visitor.

     8. Short-toed Eagle (_Circaetus gallicus_). Rare.

     9. Osprey (_Pandion haliaetus_). Fairly common in Nile Valley.

     10. Southern Bearded Vulture (_Gypaetus nudipes_). Said to breed in
     Mokattam mountains.

     11. Black Vulture (_Vultur monachus_). Fairly common in Nile

     12. Sociable Vulture (_Vultur auricularis_). Fairly common.

     13. Griffon Vulture (_Gyps fulvus_). Common.

     14. Egyptian Vulture (_Neophron percnopterus_). Common.

     15. Marsh-Harrier (_Circus aeruginosus_). Not uncommon in Lower

     16. Hen Harrier (_Circus cyaneus_). Rare.

     17. Pale-chested Harrier (_Circus pallidus_). Not uncommon
     throughout country.

     18. Montagu's Harrier (_Circus cineraceus_). Rare.

     19. Little Red-billed Hawk (_Accipiter gabar_). Very rare.

     20. Peregrine Falcon (_Falco peregrinus_). Not uncommon through

     21. Barbary Falcon (_Falco barbarus_). Rare.

     22. Lanner Falcon (_Falco lanarius_). Rare.

     23. Red-naped Falcon (_Falco Babylonicus_). Rare.

     24. Saker Falcon (_Falco saker_). Rare.

     25. Merlin (_Falco aesalon_). Common throughout.

     26. Hobby (_Falco subbuteo_). Fairly common.

     27. Sooty Falcon (_Falco eleonorae_). Rare.

     28. Red-legged Falcon (_Falco vespertinus_). Fairly common in Lower

     29. Kestrel (_Falco tinnunculus_). Very abundant everywhere.

     30. Lesser Kestrel (_Falco cenchris_). Fairly abundant.

     31. Common Kite (_Milvus regalis_). Very rare.

     32. Parasitic Kite (_Milvus aegyptius_). Very abundant throughout

     33. Black Kite (_Milvus migrans_). Rare.

     34. Black-shouldered Hawk (_Elanus coeruleus_). Fairly common south
     of Thebes.

     35. Honey Buzzard (_Pernis apivorus_). Exceedingly rare.

     36. Common Buzzard (_Buteo vulgaris_). Not common.

     37. African Buzzard (_Buteo desertorum_). Exceedingly rare.

     38. Long-legged Buzzard (_Buteo ferox_). Fairly common.

     39. Barn Owl (_Aluco flammea_). Common.

     40. Tawny Owl (_Strix aluco_). Not common.

     41. Tengmalm's Owl (_Nyctala tengmalmi_). Very rare.

     42. Little Owl (_Athene noctua_). Exceedingly abundant.

     43. Scops Owl (_Scops giu_). Rare north of Cairo.

     44. Long-eared Owl (_Asio otus_). Very rare.

     45. Short-eared Owl (_Asio accipitrinus_). Rare.

     46. Eagle Owl (_Bubo ignavus_). Very rare.

     47. Egyptian Eagle Owl (_Bubo ascalaphus_). Fairly common in Upper

     48. Cuckoo (_Cuculus canorus_). A regular visitor in August and
     returning again in March.

     49. Great-spotted Cuckoo (_Coccystes glandarius_). Not uncommon.

     50. Lark-heeled Cuckoo (_Centropus aegyptius_). Not uncommon in

     51. Wryneck (_Yunx torquilla_). Common on migration.

     52. Hoopoe (_Upupa epops_). Abundant everywhere.

     53. Common Kingfisher (_Alcedo ispida_). Abundant in Delta and
     common in many parts.

     54. Little Indian Kingfisher (_Alcedo bengalensis_). Rare.

     55. Black and White Kingfisher (_Ceryle rudis_). Very common.

     56. Blue Roller (_Coracias garrula_). Not common.

     57. Common Bee-eater (_Merops apiaster_). Common only in April and

     58. Blue-checked Bee-eater (_Merops aegyptius_). Very common in
     April and again in autumn.

     59. Little Green Bee-eater (_Merops viridis_). Very common in Upper

     60. Alpine Swift (_Cypselus melba_). Rare.

     61. Common Swift (_Cypselus apus_). Not uncommon.

     62. Egyptian Swift (_Cypselus pallidus_). Very common.

     63. Nightjar (_Caprimulgus europaeus_). Common in spring and autumn

     64. Egyptian Nightjar (_Caprimulgus aegyptius_). Not uncommon in
     spring and autumn.

     65. Swallow (_Hirundo rustica_). Common in spring and autumn only.

     66. Egyptian Swallow (_Hirundo savignii_). A very common resident.

     67. House Martin (_Chelidon urbica_). Seen in small numbers in
     spring and autumn.

     68. Shelley's Sand-Martin (_Cotile riparia shelleyii_). Summer

     69. Sand-Martin (_Cotile riparia_). Abundant in Nile Valley.

     70. Lesser Sand-Martin (_Cotile minor_). Common.

     71. Rufous Swallow (_Hirundo rufula_). Rare.

     72. Crag Swallow (_Cotile rupestris_). Rare.

     73. Pale Crag Swallow (_Cotile obsoleta_). Common in parts.

     74. White Wagtail (_Motacilla alba_). Exceedingly common.

     75. White-winged Wagtail (_Motacilla vidua_). Common at Assoan.

     76. Grey Wagtail (_Motacilla boarula_). Not uncommon.

     77. Blue-headed Wagtail (_Motacilla flava_). Not uncommon.

     78. Tree-Pipit (_Anthus trivialis_). Occasionally seen in September
     and April.

     79. Meadow Pipit (_Anthus pratensis_). Rare.

     80. Red-throated Pipit (_Anthus cervinus_). Abundant everywhere.

     81. Water Pipit (_Anthus spinoletus_). Rare.

     82. Richard's Pipit (_Anthus Richardi_). Rare.

     83. African Tawny Pipit (_Anthus raalterri_). Rare.

     84. Tawny Pipit (_Anthus campestris_). Common.

     85. Bifasciated Lark (_Certhilauda desertorum_). Rare.

     86. Desert Lark (_Ammomanes lusitana_). Not uncommon in Upper

     87. Tristram's Desert Lark (_Ammomanes fraterculus_). Not uncommon
     in Upper Egypt.

     88. Sandy-coloured Desert Lark (_Ammomanes arenicolor_). Rare.

     89. Crested Lark (_Galerita cristata_). Nearly the commonest bird.

     90. Wood Lark (_Alauda arborea_). Exceedingly rare.

     91. Sky Lark (_Alauda arvensis_). Occurs regularly in Lower Egypt.

     92. Short-toed Lark (_Calandrella brachydactyla_). Abundant.

     93. Algerian Short-toed Lark (_Calandrella reboudia_). Rare.

     94. Lesser Lark (_Calandrella minor_). Rare.

     95. Calandra Lark (_Melanocorypha calandra_). Rare.

     96. Thick-billed Calandra (_Rhamphocoris clot-bey_). Very rare.

     97. Missel Thrush (_Turdus viscivorus_). Of very rare occurrence.

     98. Fieldfare (_Turdus pilaris_). A visitant to Lower Egypt.

     99. Song Thrush (_Turdus musicus_). Not uncommon.

     100. Blackbird (_Turdus merula_). Not uncommon.

     101. Ring-Ouzel (_Turdus torquatus_). Rare.

     102. White-vented Bulbul (_Pycnonotus arsinoë_). Common, Fayûm.

     103. Yellow-vented Bulbul (_Pycnonotus xanthopygius_). Rare.

     104. Egyptian Bush-Babbler (_Crateropus acaciae_). Only rare
     visitor to Upper Egypt.

     105. Rock-Thrush (_Monticola saxatilis_). Common, Upper Egypt.

     106. Blue-rock Thrush (_Monticola cyanea_). Fairly common resident
     in Upper Egypt.

     107. Common Wheatear (_Saxicola oenanthe_). Very common.

     108. Ménétries's Wheatear (_Saxicola saltatrix_). Common resident.

     109. Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (_Saxicola amphileuca_). Fairly
     common in March and September.

     110. Egyptian Black-throated Wheatear (_Saxicola eurymelana_).

     111. Black-throated Wheatear (_Saxicola xanthomeloena_). Common

     112. Desert Chat (_Saxicola deserti_). Common on the desert.

     113. White-throated Desert Chat (_Saxicola homochroa_). Not common.

     114. Rosy-vented Chat (_Saxicola moesta_). Rare.

     115. Mourning Chat (_Saxicola lugens_). Common on the desert

     116. Pied Chat (_Saxicola leucomela_). Exceedingly rare.

     117. Hooded Chat (_Saxicola monacha_). Not uncommon on the desert.

     118. White-rumped Chat (_Saxicola leucopygia_). Common in deserts
     of Upper Egypt.

     119. Abyssinian Chat (_Saxicola syenitica_). Exceedingly rare.

     120. Whin Chat (_Pratincola rubetra_). Not uncommon.

     121. Stone Chat (_Pratincola rubicola_). Common in Lower Egypt.

     122. Hemprich's Stonechat (_Pratincola hemprichii_). Rare.

     123. Redstart (_Ruticilla phoenicura_). Common in September and

     124. Black Redstart (_Ruticilla titys_). Rare.

     125. Palestine Redstart (_Ruticilla semirufa_). Rare.

     126. Blue-throated Warbler (_Cyanecula suecica_). Very common.

     127. Robin (_Erithacus rubecula_). Common in Lower Egypt in winter.

     128. Hedge Sparrow (_Accentor modularis_). Rare.

     129. Nightingale (_Philomela luscinia_). Not uncommon.

     130. Thrush Nightingale (_Philomela major_). Very rare.

     131. Cetti's Warbler (_Bradypterus cettii_). Very rare.

     132. Rufous Warbler (_Aëdon galactodes_). Common in summer, breeds
     in Egypt.

     133. Savi's Warbler (_Locustella luscinioides_). Fairly common.

     134. River Warbler (_Locustella fluviatalis_). Very rare.

     135. Sedge Warbler (_Acrocephalus streperus_). Common.

     136. Aquatic Warbler (_Calamodyta aquatica_). Fairly common.

     137. Moustached Warbler (_Calamodyta_). Common in Delta.

     138. Reed Warbler (_Acrocephalus arundinacea_). Common in Delta.

     139. Marsh Warbler (_Acrocephalus palustris_). Rare in Lower Egypt.

     140. Clamorous Sedge Warbler (_Acrocephalus stentorius_). Common in

     141. Great Sedge Warbler (_Acrocephalus turdoides_). Rare.

     142. Arabian Sedge Warbler (_Acrocephalus arabicus_). Rare.

     143. Fan-tailed Warbler (_Cisticola schoenicola_). Abundant

     144. Graceful Warbler (_Drymoeca gracilis_). Common.

     145. Olive-tree Warbler (_Hypolais olivetorum_). Rare.

     146. Olivaceous Warbler (_Hypolais elaeica_). Common, breeds.

     147. Wood Warbler (_Phylloscopus sybillator_). Rather rare.

     148. Bonelli's Warbler (_Phyllopneuste Bonelli_). Common in Upper

     149. Chiffchaff Warbler (_Phylloscopus minor_). Common.

     150. Willow Warbler (_Phylloscopus trochilus_). Common.

     151. Melodious Willow Warbler (_Hypolais hypolais_). Rare.

     152. Vieillot's Willow Warbler (_Phyllopneuste eversmanni_). Rare.

     153. Garden Warbler (_Sylvia hortensis_). Not uncommon.

     154. Orphean Warbler (_Sylvia orpheus_). Rare.

     155. Black-cap Warbler (_Sylvia atricapilla_). Rare.

     156. Ruppell's Warbler (_Curruca rueppellii_). Fairly common.

     157. Black-headed Warbler (_Sylvia momus_). Common.

     158. Sardinian Warbler (_Melizophilus sardus_). Rare.

     159. Dartford Warbler (_Melizophilus undatus_). Rare.

     160. Subalpine Warbler (_Sylvia subalpina_). Rare.

     161. Spectacled Warbler (_Sylvia conspicillata_). Rare.

     162. Lesser Whitethroat (_Sylvia curruca_). Common.

     163. Whitethroat (_Sylvia cinerea_). Not uncommon.

     164. Yellow-breasted Sun-Bird (_Nectarinia metallica_). Occurs only
     near Assoan.

     165. Wall Creeper (_Tichodroma murari_). Very rare.

     166. Great Grey Shrike (_Lanius excubitor_). Very rare.

     167. Pallid Shrike (_Lanius lahtora_). Not uncommon.

     168. Lesser Grey Shrike (_Lanius minor_). Rare.

     169. Masked Shrike (_Lanius nubicus_). Common in February and March
     and in autumn.

     170. Woodchat Shrike (_Lanius auriculatus_). Fairly common in

     171. Red-backed Shrike (_Lanius collurio_). Not common.

     172. Spotted Flycatcher (_Muscicapa grisola_). Rare.

     173. Pied Flycatcher (_Muscicapa atricapilla_). Rare.

     174. White-collared Flycatcher (_Muscicapa collaris_). Rare.

     175. Red-breasted Flycatcher (_Muscicapa parva_).

     176. Common Bunting (_Emberiza milaria_). Common in Lower Egypt.

     177. Ortolan Bunting (_Emberiza hortulana_). Rare.

     178. Cretzschmar's Bunting (_Emberiza caesia_). Common in Delta.

     179. Smaller Reed Bunting (_Emberiza intermedia_). Rare.

     180. Common Sparrow (_Passer domesticus_). Common everywhere.

     181. Italian Sparrow (_Passer Italiae_). Rare.

     182. Spanish Sparrow (_Passer salicicola_). Common.

     183. Tree Sparrow (_Passer montanus_). Rare.

     184. The Hawfinch (_Coccothraustes vulgaris_). Rare.

     185. Chaffinch (_Fringilla coelebs_). Rare, Lower Egypt.

     186. Goldfinch (_Carduelis elegans_). Common in Delta.

     187. Black-billed Finch (_Estrelda melanorhynoba_). Very rare.

     188. Lesser Redpole (_Aegiothus rufescens_). Very rare.

     189. Siskin (_Carduelis spinus_). Very rare.

     190. Serin (_Serinus hortulanus_). Rare.

     191. Linnet (_Linota cannabina_). Common in Lower Egypt.

     192. Desert Bullfinch (_Erythrospiza githaginea_). Common on
     deserts of Upper Egypt.

     193. Golden Oriole (_Oriolus galbula_). Common only in April.

     194. Starling (_Sturnus vulgaris_). Fairly common throughout.

     195. Purple Starling (_Sturnus unicolor_). Exceedingly rare.

     196. Rose-coloured Pastor (_Pastor roseus_). Rare.

     197. Brown-necked Raven (_Corvus umbrinus_). Common in the deserts.

     198. Abyssinian Raven (_Corvus affinis_). Not common in towns.

     199. Crow (Hooded) (_Corvus cornix_). Exceedingly common in towns.

     200. Rook (_Corvus fruglegus_). Common in Delta.

     201. Jackdaw (_Corvus monedula_). Not common anywhere.

     202. Magpie (_Pica caudata_). Rare.

     203. Chough (_Pyrrhocorax alpinus_). Exceedingly rare.

     204. Rock Dove (_Columba livia_). Very common.

     205. Schimper's Pigeon (_Columba schimperi_). Common.

     206. Stock Dove (_Columba oenas_). Very rare.

     207. Turtledove (_Turtur auritus_). Very common.

     208. Sharpe's Turtledove (_Turtur sharpii_). Common.

     209. Isabelline Turtledove (_Turtur isabelinus_). Rare.

     210. White-bellied Turtledove (_Turtur albiventris_). Rare.

     211. Egyptian Turtledove (_Turtur senegalensis_). Very common

     212. Singed Sand-Grouse (_Pterocles exustus_). Common in deserts

     213. Senegal Sand-Grouse (_Pterocles senegallus_). Not common.

     214. Coroneted Sand-Grouse (_Pterocles coronatus_). Rare.

     215. Francolin (_Francolinus vulgaris_). Very rare.

     216. Hey's Sand-Partridge (_Ammoperdix heyi_). Only met on deserts.

     217. Cholmley's Sand-Partridge (_Ammoperdix cholmleyi_). Only met
     with on the desert.

     218. Quail (_Coturnix communis_). Very common in March and

     219. Andalusian Hemipode (_Turnix sylvatica_). Very rare.

     220. Houbara Bustard (_Otis houbara_). Met only on desert west of

     221. Little Bustard (_Otis tetrax_). Rare.

     222. Arabian Bustard (_Eupodotis arabs_). Rare.

     223. Collared Pratincole (_Glareola pratincola_). Common in April
     and October.

     224. Black-winged Pratincole (_Glareola nordmanni_). Rare.

     225. Cream-coloured Courser (_Cursorius gallicus_). Common on

     226. Thick-knee (_Oedicnemus crepitans_). Very common.

     227. Lapwing (_Vanellus cristatus_). Very common.

     228. Spur-winged Plover (_Hoplopterus spinosus_). Common.

     229. Social Plover (_Chettusia gregaria_). Rare.

     230. White-tailed Plover (_Chettusia villotaei_). Not common.

     231. Black-headed Plover (_Pluvianus aegyptius_). Not common, Upper

     232. Golden Plover (_Charadrius pluvialis_). Not common.

     233. Grey Plover (_Squatarola helvetica_). Rare.

     234. Dotterel (_Eudromias morinellus_). Very rare.

     235. Asiatic Dotterel (_Eudromias asiaticus_). Very rare.

     236. Large Sand-Plover (_Aegialitis geoffroyi_). Met with only on

     237. Mongolian Sand-Plover (_Aegialitis mongolicus_). Very rare.

     238. African Sand-Plover (_Aegialitis pecuarius_). Not common.

     239. Kentish Plover (_Aegialitis cantianus_). Very common

     240. Greater Ringed Plover (_Aegialitis hiaticula_). Rare.

     241. Middle Ringed Plover (_Aegialitis intermedius_). Common in

     242. Little Ringed Plover (_Aegialitis minor_). Very common

     243. Oyster-Catcher (_Haematopus ostralegus_). Common on sea-coast.

     244. Curlew (_Numenius arquata_). Common in Delta.

     245. Whimbrel (_Numenius phaeopus_). Met with sparingly in Nile

     246. Slender-billed Curlew (_Numenius tenuirostris_). Rare.

     247. Black-tailed Godwit (_Limosa aegocephala_). Not uncommon.

     248. Ruff (_Machetes pugnax_). Common throughout Egypt.

     249. Woodcock (_Scolopax rusticola_). Now more frequently recorded
     than formerly.

     250. Solitary Snipe (_Gallinago major_). Rare.

     251. Common Snipe (_Gallinago media_). Common everywhere.

     252. Jack Snipe (_Gallinago gallinula_). Common.

     253. Painted Snipe (_Rhynchaea capensis_). Fairly common

     254. Little Stint (_Tringa minuta_). Very abundant.

     255. Temminck's Stint (_Tringa temminckii_). Rather rare.

     256. Sanderling (_Tringa arenaria_). Not common.

     257. Dunlin (_Tringa alpinus_). Not common, and only on coast.

     258. Knot (_Tringa canutus_). Not common.

     259. Curlew Sandpiper (_Tringa subarquata_). Not common.

     260. Redshank (_Totanus calidris_). Common in Delta, rare

     261. Dusky Redshank (_Totanus fuscus_). Rare.

     262. Greenshank (_Totanus canescens_). Common.

     263. Marsh Sandpiper (_Totanus stagnatalis_). Not common.

     264. Green Sandpiper (_Totanus ochropus_). Very common everywhere.

     265. Wood Sandpiper (_Totanus glareola_). Common in Lower Egypt.

     266. Common Sandpiper (_Actitis hypoleucos_). Common.

     267. Black-winged Stilt (_Himantopus candidus_). Not uncommon.

     268. Avocet (_Recurvirostra avocetta_). Common only in Delta.

     269. Sacred Ibis (_Ibis aethiopica_). Very rare indeed.

     270. Glossy Ibis (_Ibis falcinellus_). Rare.

     271. African Wood Ibis (_Tantalus ibis_). Rare.

     272. Common Crane (_Grus communis_). Not uncommon in October and

     273. Demoiselle Crane (_Grus virgo_). Not common.

     274. Spoonbill (_Platalea leucorodia_). Common in all parts.

     275. White Stork (_Ciconia alba_). Common during migration months,
     October and March.

     276. Black Stork (_Ciconia nigra_). Not common.

     277. Shoebill or Whale-headed Stork (_Balaeniceps rex_).

     278. Common Heron (_Ardea cinerea_). Very common.

     279. Purple Heron (_Ardea purpurea_). Only common in Lower Egypt.

     280. Great White Heron (_Herodias alba_). Only common in Delta.

     281. Little Egret (_Herodias garzetta_). Not common.

     282. Buff-backed Heron (_Ardeola russata_). Commonest in Delta.

     283. Squacco Heron (_Ardeola comata_). Rare.

     284. Night Heron (_Nycticorax griseus_). Fairly common everywhere.

     285. Bittern (_Botaurus stellaris_). Not uncommon in Lower Egypt.

     286. Little Bittern (_Botaurus minutus_). Common.

     287. Flamingo (_Phoenicopterus antiquorum_). Common in Delta.

     288. Water Rail (_Rallus aquaticus_). Common in Lower Egypt.

     289. Land Rail (Ortygometra crex). Not common.

     290. Spotted Crake (_Porzana maruetta_). Common.

     291. Baillon's Crake (_Porzana pygmaea_). Very rare.

     292. Moorhen (_Gallinula chloropus_). Common in Lower Egypt.

     293. Allen's Gallinule (_Porphyrio Alleni_). Very rare.

     294. Violet Gallinule (_Porphyrio hyacinthinus_). Common in Lower

     295. Green-backed Gallinule (_Porphyrio madagascariensis_). Very

     296. Common Coot (_Fulica atra_). Common everywhere.

     297. Crested Coot (_Fulica cristata_). Rare.

     298. Mute Swan (_Cygnus olor_). Rare.

     299. Hooper Swan (_Cygnus musicus_). Very rare.

     300. Egyptian Goose (_Chenalopex aegyptiacus_). Not common.

     301. White-fronted Goose (_Anser albifrons_). Not uncommon.

     302. Lesser White-fronted Goose (_Anser erythropus_). Rare.

     303. Bean Goose (_Anser fabalis_). Very rare.

     304. Brent Goose (_Bernicla brenta_). Rare.

     305. Sheldrake (_Tadorna vulpanser_). Rare.

     306. Ruddy Sheldrake (_Tadorna rutila_). Not uncommon in Lower

     307. Common Wild Duck (_Anas boschas_). Fairly common everywhere.

     308. Gadwall (_Anas strepera_). Not very common.

     309. Pintail (_Dafila acuta_). Very common throughout country.

     310. Shoveller (_Spatula clypeata_). Exceedingly common.

     311. Teal (_Querquedula crecca_). Very common.

     312. Garganey Teal (_Querquedula circia_). Not common.

     313. Widgeon (_Mareca penelope_). Very common indeed.

     314. Ferruginous Duck (_Nyroca leucophtalma_). Rare.

     315. Pochard (_Fuligula ferina_). Very common indeed.

     316. Red-crested Pochard (_Netta rufina_). Lower Egypt.

     317. Scaup Duck (_Fuligula marila_). Not common.

     318. Tufted Duck (_Fuligula cristata_). Exceedingly common.

     319. White-headed Duck (_Erismatura leucocephala_). Rare.

     320. Velvet Scoter (_Oedemia fusca_). Rare.

     321. Dalmatian Pelican (_Pelecanus crispus_). Fairly common.

     322. White Pelican (_Pelecanus onocrotalus_). Fairly common.

     323. Lesser Pelican (_Pelecanus minor_). Fairly common.

     324. Masked Gannet (_Sula cyanops_). Very rare.

     325. Cormorant (_Phalacrocorax carbo_). Common in Lower Egypt, rare

     326. Little Cormorant (_Phalacrocorax pygmaens_). Rare.

     327. Caspian Tern (_Sterna caspia_). Fairly common near sea.

     328. Gull-billed Tern (_Sterna anglica_). Common in Lower Egypt.

     329. Sandwich Tern (_Sterna cantiaca_). Rare.

     330. Allied Tern (_Sterna media_). Common in Lower Egypt.

     331. Swift Tern (_Sterna bergii_). Not uncommon in Lower Egypt.

     332. Common Tern (_Sterna fluviatilis_). Rare.

     333. Arctic Tern (_Sterna hirundo_). Rare.

     334. Lesser Tern (_Sterna minuta_). Very rare.

     335. Black Tern (_Hydrochelidon fissipes_). Rare.

     336. White-winged Black Tern (_Hydrochelidon nigra_). Rare.

     337. Whiskered Tern (_Hydrochelidon leucopareia_). Common on Nile.

     338. Scissor-billed Tern (_Rhynchops flavirostris_). Rare.

     339. Greater Black-backed Gull (_Larus marinus_). Rare on coast

     340. Lesser Black-backed Gull (_Larus fuscus_). Fairly common.

     341. Mediterranean Herring Gull (_Larus leucophaeus_). Not

     342. Herring Gull (_Larus argentatus_). Fairly common on coast.

     343. Common Gull (_Larus canus_). Not common.

     344. Slender-billed Gull (_Larus gelastes_). Rare.

     345. Great Black-headed Gull (_Larus ichthyaetus_). Rare.

     346. White-eyed Gull (_Larus leucopthalmus_). Very rare.

     347. Mediterranean Black-headed Gull (_Larus melanocephalus_). Not

     348. Black-headed Gull (_Larus ridibundus_). Common in Lower Egypt.

     349. Little Gull (_Larus minutus_). Rare.

     350. Cinereous Shearwater (_Puffinus kuhlii_). Not rare on coast.

     351. Manx Shearwater (_Puffinus anglorum_). Rare on coast.

     352. Great-crested Grebe (_Podicipides cristatus_). Rare.

     353. Eared Grebe (_Podicipides nigricollis_). Rare.

     354. Red-necked Grebe (_Podicipides griseigena_). Rare.

     355. Little Grebe (_Podicipides minor_). Common.

     356. Red-throated Diver (_Colymbus septentrionalis_). Rare.


Avocet, 129, Plate, 130, 213

Bee-eater, Blue-checked, 206
  Common, 206
  Little Green, 54, Plate, 206

Birds in mid-air, 1, Plate

Bittern, 214
  Little, 214

Blackbird, 207

Blue Roller, 206

Bulbul, White-vented, 207
  Yellow-vented, 207

Bullfinch, Desert, 85, Plate, 210

Bunting, Common, 210
  Cretzschmar's, 210
  Ortolan, 210
  Smaller Reed, 210

Bush-babbler, Egyptian, 207

Bustard, Arabian, 211
  Houbara, 211
  Little, 211

Buzzard, African, 205
  Common, 205
  Honey, 205
  Long-legged, 205

Calandra, Thick-billed, 207

Chaffinch, 210

Chat, Desert, 208
  Hemprich's Stone-, 208
  Hooded, 73, 208
  Mourning, 73, 208
  Rosy-vented, 71, Plate, 208
  Stone-, 208
  Whin, 208
  White-rumped, 71, 72, Plate, 208
  White-throated Desert, 208

Chough, 211

Coot, Common, Frontispiece Plate, 7, 172, 173, 214
  Crested, 214

Cormorant, 191, Plate, 192, 193, 194, 195, 196, 215
  Little, 215

Courser, Cream-coloured, 110, Plate, 111, 112, 212

Crake, Baillon's, 214
  Spotted, 214

Crane, Common, 135, Plate, 136, 137, 138, 139, 213
  Demoiselle, 213

Crow, Hooded, 28, 89, Plate, 91, 211

Cuckoo, 205
  Great-spotted, 205
  Lark-heeled, 205

Curlew, 212
  Slender-billed, 212

Diver, Red-throated, 216

Dotterel, 212
  Asiatic, 212

Dove, Palm, 92, Plate
  Rock, 211
  Stock, 211
  Turtle, 92, Plate, 93, 211

Duck, Common Wild, 7, 180, 214
  Ferruginous, 215
  Pintail, 178, Plate, 179, 180, 215
  Scaup, 215
  Shoveller, 178, Plate, 181, 182, 183, 215
  Tufted, 215
  White-headed, 215

Dunlin, 213

Eagle, Bonelli's, 204
  Booted, 28, 204
  Golden, 204
  Imperial, 204
  Short-toed, 204
  Spotted, 204
  Tawny, 204
  White-tailed, 204

Egret, Little, 156, 157, 214

Falcon, Barbary, 204
  Lanner, 204
  Peregrine, 3, 204
  Red-legged, 205
  Red-naped, 204
  Saker, 205
  Sooty, 205

Fieldfare, 207

Finch, Black-billed, 210
  Trumpeter, 85, Plate

Flamingo, 13, 162, Plate, 163, 164, 165, 166, 167, 214

Flycatcher, Pied, 210
  Red-breasted, 210
  Spotted, 210
  White-collared, 210

Francolin, 211

Gadwall, 215

Gallinule, Allen's, 214
  Green-backed, 168, Plate, 169, 170, 171, 214
  Violet, 214

Gannet, Masked, 215

Godwit, Black-tailed, 212

Goldfinch, 210

Goose, Bean, 176, 177, 214
  Brent, 177, 214

Goose, Egyptian, 174, Plate, 175, 214
  Lesser White-fronted, 214
  Red-breasted, 176
  White-fronted, 176, 177, 214

Grebe, Eared, 216
  Great-crested, 216
  Little, 216
  Red-necked, 216

Greenshank, 7, 213

Grouse, Coroneted Sand-, 94, 96, 211
  Sand-, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98
  Senegal Sand-, 94, Plate, 211
  Singed Sand-, 94, 211

Gull, Black-headed, 197, Plate, 198, 199, 200, 201, 216
  Common, 216
  Great Black-headed, 216
  Greater Black-backed, 216
  Herring, 216
  Lesser Black-backed, 197, Plate, 198, 216
  Little, 216
  Mediterranean Black-headed, 216
  Mediterranean Herring, 216
  Slender-billed, 216
  White-eyed, 216

Harrier, Hen-, 204
  Marsh-, 204
  Montagu's, 204
  Pale-chested, 204

Hawfinch, 210

Hawk, Black-shouldered, 205
  Little red-billed, 204
  Sparrow, 83

Hemipode, Andalusian, 211

Heron, Buff-backed, 154, Plate, 156, 157, 214
  Common, 4, 152, Plate, 153, 154, 214
  Great White, 214
  Night, 159, Plate, 160, 161, 214
  Purple, 214
  Squacco, 214

Hobby, 205

Hoopoe, 45, 46, Plate, 47, 48, 205

Ibis, African Wood, 213
  Glossy, 213
  Sacred, 131, Plate, 132, 133, 134, 213

Jackdaw, 211

Kestrel, 2, 25, 26, 28, 29, 53, 205
  Lesser, 205

Kingfisher, Black and White, 51, Plate, 52, 53, 206
  Common, 49, Plate, 206
  Little Indian, 50, 206

Kite, Black, 33, 205
  Common, 2, 205
  Parasitic or Egyptian, 30, Plate, 31, 32, 33, 205

Kites in flight, 32, Plate

Knot, 213

Lapwing, 111, Plate, 114, 212

Lark, Algerian Short-toed, 207
  Bifasciated, 207
  Calandra, 207
  Crested, 69, Plate, 207
  Desert, 207
  Lesser, 207
  Sandy-coloured Desert, 207
  Short-toed, 207
  Sky, 207
  Tristram's Desert, 207
  Wood, 207

Linnet, 210

Magpie, 211

Martin, House, 63, 64, 206
  Lesser Sand-, 206
  Sand-, 64, 206
  Shelley's Sand-, 206

Merlin, 205

Moorhen, 214

Nightingale, 208
  Thrush, 208

Nightjar, 57, 206
  Egyptian, 206

Nile, a view on, 10, Plate

Oriole, Golden, 210

Osprey, 204

Ouzel, Ring, 207

Owl, Barn, 34, Plate, 35, 36, 37, 205
  Eagle, 7, 42, 205
  Egyptian Eagle, 42, Plate, 43, 205
  Little, 38, Plate, 39, 40, 41, 205
  Long-eared, 205
  Scops, 205
  Short-eared, 205
  Tawny, 205
  Tengmalm's, 205

Oyster-Catcher, 212

Palm Dove, 93, Plate

Partridge, Cholmley's Sand-, 211
  Hey's Sand-, 99, Plate, 100, 101, 102, 211

Pastor, Rose-coloured, 211

Pelican, Dalmatian, 215
  Lesser, 215
  White, 184, Plate, 187, 189, 190, 215

Pigeon, Schimper's, 211

Pipit, African Tawny, 207
  Meadow, 207
  Red-throated, 207
  Richard's, 207
  Tawny, 207
  Tree, 207
  Water, 207

Plover, African Sand-, 212
  Black-headed, 113, 116, Plate, 117, 118, 119, 212
  Golden, 212
  Greater Ringed, 212
  Green, 111, Plate, 114
  Grey, 212
  Kentish, 212
  Large Sand-, 212
  Little Ringed, 120, Plate, 121, 212
  Middle Ringed, 212
  Mongolian Sand-, 212
  Social, 212
  Spur-winged, 113, Plate, 114, 115, 119, 212
  White-tailed, 212

Pochard, 215
  Red-crested, 215

Pratincole, Black-winged, 212
  Collared, 212

Quail, 104, Plate, 105, 106, 107, 211

Rail, Land, 214
  Water, 214

Raven, Abyssinian, 91, 211
  Brown-necked, 91, 211

Redpole, Lesser, 210

Redshank, 213
  Dusky, 213

Redstart, 208
  Black, 208
  Palestine, 208

Robin, 208

Rook, 211

Ruff, 212

Sanderling, 213

Sandpiper, Common, 213
  Curlew, 213
  Green, 213
  Marsh, 213
  Wood, 213

Scoter, Velvet, 215

Serin, 210

Shearwater, Cinereous, 216
  Manx, 216

Sheldrake, 214
  Ruddy, 214

Shoebill, 148, Plate, 149, 150, 151, 213

Shoveller, 215

Shrike, Great Grey, 210
  Lesser Grey, 210
  Masked, 210

Shrike, Pallid, 210
  Red-backed, 210
  Woodchat, 210

Siskin, 210

Snipe, Common, 125, Plate, 127, 213
  Jack, 126, 213
  Painted, 128, Plate, 213
  Solitary, 213

Sparrow, Common, 81, Plate, 210
  Egyptian, 81, 82, 83, 84
  Hedge, 208
  Italian, 210
  Spanish, 210
  Tree, 210

Spoonbill, 129, 140, Plate, 154, 157, 213

Starling, 211
  Purple, 211

Stilt, Black-winged, 213

Stint, Little, 213
  Temminck's, 213

Stork, Black, 142, Plate, 146, 147, 213
  Whale-headed, 148, Plate, 149, 150, 151
  White, 142, 145, 146, 213

Sun-bird, Yellow-breasted, 210

Swallow, 32, 57, 60, Plate, 63, 64, 206
  Crag, 206
  Egyptian, 60, 61, 206
  Pale Crag, 64, Plate, 206
  Rufous, 206

Swan, Hooper, 214
  Mute, 214

Swift, Alpine, 206
  Common, 32, 57, 58, 59, 206
  Egyptian, 206

Teal, 178, Plate, 183, 184, 185, 215
  Garganey, 215

Tern, 202
  Allied, 215
  Arctic, 215
  Black, 215
  Caspian, 215
  Common, 215
  Gull-billed, 215
  Lesser, 215
  Sandwich, 215
  Scissor-billed, 215
  Swift, 215
  Whiskered, 215
  White-winged Black, 215

Thick-knee, 212

Thrush, Blue-rock, 207
  Missel, 207
  Rock, 207
  Song, 207

Turtledove, Egyptian, 93, 211
  Isabelline, 211
  Sharpe's, 211
  White-bellied, 211

Vulture, Black, 204
  Egyptian, 3, 19, 20, Plate, 22, 23, 204
  Griffon, 3, 14, Plate, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 186, 204
  Sociable, 19, 204
  Southern Bearded, 204

Wagtail, Blue-headed, 206
  Grey, 206
  White, 66, Plate, 206
  White-winged, 206
  Yellow, 67

Wall Creeper, 210

Warbler, Aquatic, 209
  Arabian Sedge, 209
  Black-cap, 209
  Black-headed, 209

Warbler, Blue-throated, 74, Plate, 75, 76, 77, 208
  Bonelli's, 209
  Cetti's, 208
  Chiffchaff, 209
  Clamorous Sedge, 209
  Dartford, 209
  Fan-tailed, 209
  Garden, 209
  Graceful, 209
  Great Sedge, 209
  Marsh, 209
  Melodious Willow, 209
  Moustached, 209
  Olivaceous, 209
  Olive-tree, 209
  Orphean, 209
  Reed, 78, Plate, 79, 80, 209
  River, 209
  Rufous, 208
  Ruppell's, 209
  Sardinian, 209
  Savi's, 209
  Sedge, 78, 209
  Spectacled, 209
  Subalpine, 209
  Vieillot's Willow, 209
  Willow, 209
  Wood, 209

Wheatear, Black-throated, 208
  Common, 208
  Eastern Black-eared, 208
  Egyptian Black-throated, 208
  Ménétries's, 208

Whimbrel, 212

Whitethroat, 209
  Lesser, 209

Widgeon, 215

Woodcock, 122, 123, 124, 213

Wryneck, 205

                                THE END

           _Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_.

       *       *       *       *       *



_Square Demy 8vo, Cloth, Gilt Top_

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"It can in general be thoroughly relied on for reference, especially on
the questions of measurement and distribution, and we do not know of any
book covering the whole ground which could be more safely recommended to
the young Naturalist, keen to learn the secret of identification."--_The

"His work is greatly in advance of many that profess to treat of our
country's birds and omit precisely those about which we need information
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specially addressed to it."--_The Guardian._

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"The latest book about birds will appeal to all who are interested in
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made, although, perhaps, such familiar friends as the robin and the
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well known."--_Westminster Gazette._

"The selection has been made with the finest discrimination, and the
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=Size 9 × 6-1/4 ins.=

Painted and Described by FRANCES E. NESBITT

=Algeria and Tunis=


Described by SIR MARTIN CONWAY Painted by A. D. M'CORMICK

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=Birds of Britain=


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=Birket Foster=


Painted by MORTIMER MENPES, R.I., R.E. Described by DOROTHY MENPES



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=The Highlands and Islands of Scotland=


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=English Costume=

In Four Sections, each containing 18 to 20 full-page Illustrations in
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Painted by A. S. FORREST Described by JOHN HENDERSON



Painted and Described by A. HEATON COOPER

=The Norwegian Fjords=


Painted by J. HAMILTON HAY Described by WALTER SCOTT






Painted by C. E. HANNAFORD Described by CHAS. R. ROWE, M.J.I.

=South Devon=



=The Upper Engadine=



       *       *       *       *       *


Price 7s. 6d. net each

=Size 8 × 5-1/2 ins.=

Edited by F. G. AFLALO

=Fishermen's Weather=

Opinions and Experiences by 100 well-known Anglers



=Trout Fishing= (SECOND EDITION)



=Salmon Fishing=


       *       *       *       *       *





With an Essay on the Life and Work of Rembrandt by C. LEWIS HIND DEMY
QUARTO, CLOTH, GILT TOP (11 × 8-1/4 INCHES). =PRICE 12s. 6d. NET= 16


=The Lady of the Lake=





=The Practical Angler= =or, the Art of Trout Fishing, more particularly
applied to Clear Water=


=PRICE 3s. 6d. NET=


       *       *       *       *       *


Size 6-1/4 × 4 ins.


=Sir Henry Irving=



       *       *       *       *       *




=Size 8-1/4 × 6 ins.=


=Red Cap Tales=

=Stolen from the Treasure-Chest of the Wizard of the North=


Edited by G. E. MITTON

=Swiss Family Robinson=



=Adventures of Punch=



=The Black Bear.= By H. PERRY ROBINSON =The Cat.= By VIOLET HUNT
=The Dog.= By G. E. MITTON =The Fox.= By J. C. TREGARTHEN =The Rat.=
By G. M. A. HEWETT =The Squirrel.= By T. C. BRIDGES


_Others in preparation._

Translated and Abridged by _Dominick Daly_

=The Adventures of Don Quixote=


=Gulliver's Travels=



=The Pilgrim's Progress=



=William Tell Told Again=



=Children's Book of London=



=Children's Book of Stars=

With a Preface by SIR DAVID GILL, K.C.B.



=Children's Book of Edinburgh=



=Children's Tales from Scottish Ballads=


By the REV. R. C. GILLIE

=The Story of Stories=


By the REV. R. C. GILLIE

=The Kinsfolk and Friends of Jesus=



=Uncle Tom's Cabin=


       *       *       *       *       *



_Price_ _=1s. 6d.=_ _net each_


_Kindly apply to the Publishers_, ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK, _Soho Square,
London, W., for a detailed Prospectus of any volume in this list. The
books themselves may be obtained through any Bookseller at home or


       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

Deir-el-Bahari and Abu Feada=> Deir-el-Bahari and Abu Fêada {pg 91}

different localties=> different localities {pg 94}

seventeeen years=> seventeen years {pg 196}

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