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Title: Birds of Britain
Author: Bonhote, J. Lewis
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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Libraries.)



                            BIRDS OF BRITAIN


                                   BY
                            J. LEWIS BONHOTE
                          M.A., F.L.S., F.Z.S.
              MEMBER OF THE BRITISH ORNITHOLOGISTS’ UNION

                                  WITH
                      100 ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR
                              SELECTED BY
                             H. E. DRESSER
                       FROM HIS ‘BIRDS OF EUROPE’

                [Illustration: Publisher logo]

                                 LONDON
                         ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK
                                  1907
                       _Published November 1907_

                [Illustration: MISSEL THRUSH
                _Turdus viscivorus_
                Adult (right). Young (left)]



                                PREFACE


The study of Nature has of late years enormously increased, and there is
probably no branch of its varied and inexhaustible interests which
appeals more strongly to young and old than the fascinating study of
Birds.

Every one feels more or less interested in Birds, whether it be from
pure affection for the Robins and Tits which beg our hospitality during
the winter months, or joy at the coming of the Swallow and Cuckoo as
heralds of spring.

For some the interest is perhaps merely a passing regret at the shooting
of one of our rare and beautiful migrants, while with others the real
love of bird life makes it a moment of intensest pleasure when, for
instance, the melodious note of the Nightingale makes us dimly realise
something of the innate beauty of Nature herself.

In the following pages will be found not only descriptions and plates of
the birds themselves, but, wherever possible, notes on their ways and
habits have also been given. These notes having been taken at first hand
straight from Nature, it is hoped that they may give a small insight
into some of those beautiful mysteries which it is our ambition to
unravel, and that, at the same time, they may awaken and stimulate a
further desire to know still more of the workings of the great laws of
the Universe and the part they play in the lives of even the least of
the feathered creatures.

It has been thought best to include in this book every species which has
been known to occur in Great Britain, with a description of their
leading characteristics and true habitat, so that any bird met with may
be easily identified; and the plates have been carefully selected so as
to give examples of the most typical species.

For facts relative to geographical distribution and other technical
details the author has freely consulted Mr. Howard Saunders’ _Manual of
British Birds_.

In conclusion, the author hopes most sincerely that this book may often
prove to be of help and service to the genuine seeker after reliable
information on British Birds, and also that it may encourage observation
and further research in a branch of Natural History where discovery ever
stimulates to fresh discovery and where interest never fails.

                                                       J. LEWIS BONHOTE.
      Gade Spring,
  Hemel Hempstead, Herts,
      _November 1907_.



                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  1. Missel Thrush                                         _Frontispiece_
                                                              FACING PAGE
  2. Song Thrush                                                        4
  3. Fieldfare                                                         10
  4. Blackbird                                                         16
  5. Ring Ouzel                                                        20
  6. Wheatear                                                          22
  7. Stonechat                                                         30
  8. Redstart                                                          32
  9. Robin                                                             36
  10. Nightingale                                                      38
  11. Whitethroat                                                      40
  12. Lesser Whitethroat                                               42
  13. Blackcap                                                         46
  14. Dartford Warbler                                                 48
  15. Fire-crested Wren and Golden-crested Wren                        50
  16. Chiffchaff and Willow Wren                                       54
  17. Reed Warbler and Marsh Warbler                                   60
  18. Grasshopper Warbler                                              66
  19. Hedge Accentor (Hedge Sparrow)                                   68
  20. Bearded Reedling                                                 72
  21. Long-tailed Tit                                                  74
  22. Great Tit                                                        76
  23. Marsh Tit                                                        78
  24. Nuthatch                                                         80
  25. Common Wren                                                      82
  26. Tree-Creeper                                                     84
  27. Pied Wagtail                                                     86
  28. Grey Wagtail                                                     88
  29. Blue-headed Wagtail                                              90
  30. Tree Pipit and Meadow Pipit                                      92
  31. Red-backed Shrike                                               102
  32. Waxwing                                                         104
  33. Spotted Flycatcher                                              106
  34. Sand-Martin                                                     112
  35. Greenfinch                                                      114
  36. Goldfinch                                                       118
  37. Tree-Sparrow                                                    124
  38. Chaffinch                                                       126
  39. Linnet                                                          130
  40. Mealy Redpoll                                                   132
  41. Bullfinch                                                       136
  42. Crossbill                                                       138
  43. Yellow Bunting (Yellow Hammer)                                  142
  44. Cirl Bunting                                                    144
  45. Snow Bunting and Lapland Bunting                                150
  46. Starling                                                        152
  47. Jay                                                             156
  48. Magpie                                                          158
  49. Jackdaw                                                         160
  50. Rook                                                            166
  51. Skylark                                                         168
  52. Common Swift                                                    174
  53. Wryneck                                                         178
  54. Greater Spotted Woodpecker                                      180
  55. Kingfisher                                                      182
  56. Cuckoo                                                          186
  57. Barn Owl                                                        190
  58. Long-eared Owl                                                  192
  59. Tawny Owl                                                       194
  60. Golden Eagle                                                    204
  61. Peregrine                                                       212
  62. Kestrel                                                         216
  63. Shag                                                            220
  64. Bittern                                                         228
  65. Sheld-Duck                                                      240
  66. Mallard or Wild Duck                                            242
  67. Shoveller                                                       246
  68. Wigeon                                                          252
  69. Tufted Duck                                                     256
  70. Common Scoter                                                   262
  71. Red-breasted Merganser                                          266
  72. Stock Dove                                                      270
  73. Turtle Dove                                                     272
  74. Red Grouse                                                      276
  75. Partridge                                                       280
  76. Land-Rail                                                       284
  77. Water-Rail                                                      286
  78. Moor-hen                                                        288
  79. Stone Curlew                                                    294
  80. Ringed Plover                                                   300
  81. Golden Plover and Grey Plover                                   304
  82. Lapwing                                                         308
  83. Oyster-Catcher                                                  312
  84. Grey Phalarope and Red-necked Phalarope                         314
  85. Woodcock                                                        318
  86. Dunlin                                                          324
  87. Redshank                                                        342
  88. Curlew                                                          348
  89. Common Tern                                                     354
  90. Black-headed Gull                                               360
  91. Herring Gull                                                    364
  92. Greater Black-backed Gull                                       368
  93. Kittiwake                                                       370
  94. Richardson’s Skua                                               374
  95. Razorbill                                                       376
  96. Common Guillemot                                                378
  97. Black Guillemot                                                 380
  98. Red-throated Diver                                              386
  99. Great-crested Grebe                                             388
  100. Storm Petrel and Leach’s Petrel                                392

                [Illustration: Diagram showing the Topography of a
    Bird.]

  Wing.
    1. Lesser Coverts.
    2. Median    ”
    Greater or Major Coverts.
      3. Primary   ”
      4. Secondary ”
    Quills, Remiges, or Flight feathers.
      5. Primaries
      6. Secondaries
    7. Bastard-Primary.
    8.    ”    Wing.
  Leg.
    Tarsus.
    Ist or hind toe.
    IInd or inner toe.
    IIIrd or middle toe.
    IVth or outer toe.
  *This joint is the heel proper, but is commonly called the thigh.



                            BIRDS OF BRITAIN



                           THE MISSEL THRUSH
                       Turdus viscivorus, Linnæus


It was by the sea-coast, on a bleak and wind-swept hill covered with
short grass and patches of heather and gorse, that our attention was
first directed to a light-coloured bird of fair size which rose at our
feet from behind a tussock, and uttering a curious wild churring note,
darted away against the strong south-west wind. Well has he earned his
name of “Storm Cock” from his wild note and rapid flight. Watch him now,
sustained by quick, continuous wing-beats, and now as the wind slackens
carried along with a dipping motion and outstretched wings, the whole
bird suggestive of strength and activity, and as fickle and changeable
in his moods as the elements among which he delights to live.

It was in June that I first saw him, when he and others of his kind, who
but a few months before were callow and helpless nestlings, were
learning from the summer gale a taste of what they would have to face
when winter brought its storms and tempests, for the Storm Cock is no
migrant to warmer climes and softer breezes, but leads a regular roving
gipsy’s life over our Islands, wandering from the northernmost corners
of Scotland to the south of England, obeying no will but his own, and
guided by no special impulse beyond that of satisfying his own
appetite,—by no means a difficult task, as little in the way of berries
or insects comes amiss to him. His common name of Missel Thrush
(Mistletoe Thrush) is derived from his supposed fondness for this berry,
but this is a point on which doubt still exists.

On the day when we first saw him, however, he was engaged in picking up
the flies, ants, beetles, and other live prey which the scanty
vegetation on the hill enabled him to see and capture easily. In spots
where the ground was loose he would dig in his bill and turn over a
small bit of earth, then stand with head held expectantly on one side,
literally waiting for something to turn up. Often he would repeat this
several times with little or no result, then all of a sudden down would
go his head and we would make out something between his mandibles, then
would come a quick movement of his head and his beak would be empty
again.

Suddenly one of his brothers near uttered an alarm-note, and in an
instant he was up and across the valley, where for the moment we could
not follow him.

Thus, then, he spends his life from May till January: on cliffs by the
sea, on bare moorlands, in thick woods—where the mountain-ash berries in
their season form a favourite food—over open, cultivated fields where
the freshly-turned furrow has unearthed abundant delicacies—or in the
country hedgerow where hips and haws, elderberries and sloe are not less
appreciated. Here to-day and gone to-morrow, a restless, wandering bird.

As early as January, however, he begins to think of nesting, and having
secured a mate, retires to what is for him a comparatively sheltered
spot, either to a wood, or preferably to a row of trees along a hedge,
and not unfrequently to some fruit-tree in an orchard or garden. Whether
or not the Missel Thrush returns year after year to the same spot to
nest we cannot say, but, as a rule, the same garden or row of trees will
every spring shelter a pair of these birds if once they have nested
there.

Although he may probably build his nest quite close to our house, yet
the Missel Thrush is always wild and shy, and is rarely seen except as
he flies over the garden uttering his unmistakable note, or as he sits
on the topmost branch of some tall tree and sings his love-song to his
mate below. The song is wild, and consists of a somewhat incoherent
medley of notes, which, if not calculated to appeal especially to our
musical ear, strikes at any rate a note of harmony with the winter’s
wind.

The nest is placed on a horizontal branch some 10 or 12 feet from the
ground, and often at some distance from the trunk of the tree. The
Missel Thrush is very conservative in its choice of a site, and seldom
if ever chooses any other position. When built the nest is a fairly
conspicuous object, with its foundation of twigs and mud and lined with
grass and hay. Towards the end of February, however, we shall one day be
surprised to see a large nest in some conspicuous position, and on
examination will probably discover the hen, sitting on four to six eggs
of a bluish colour with large reddish spots and blotches fairly evenly
distributed over their surface. But even now, although we know exactly
where the nest of these shy birds is, it will not be easy to see much of
them.

When the young are hatched both parents attend most assiduously to the
wants of the brood, feeding them on earth-worms, the favourite food of
almost all the Thrushes. By the end of March the first brood is on the
wing, and the parents busy themselves with a new nest for the reception
of their second family. These, too, are hatched and on the wing by the
middle of May, and then the whole family, young and old, leave their
home to wander round the country until another January brings them back
again to add their note of harmony to the winter’s wind.

The upper parts are of a uniform ash brown, under parts buffish white
thickly spotted with dark brown. The sexes are alike in plumage. The
young has the upper parts spotted with buff, and the spots below are
much smaller. Length 11 in.; wing 6 in.



                            THE SONG THRUSH
                        Turdus musicus, Linnæus


One of the first signs that winter is thinking of releasing its grasp,
and that spring, if still some way off, is nevertheless on the way, is
the clear melodious song of the Song Thrush. Soon after daybreak (having
breakfasted off the early worm) this bird may be heard in almost every
garden that can boast of a shrub large enough to conceal him and his
nest. Any sort of cultivated country forms his home, either the broad
fields, scanty hedgerows, the carefully-cultivated garden of the
wealthy, or even the small and dusty plot of the town-dweller.

                [Illustration: SONG THRUSH
                _Turdus musicus_]

His food consists chiefly of insects, though worms form a considerable
part of his diet, and snails are a delicacy of which he is extremely
fond.

There must be few people who have not noticed our brown friend hopping
down the garden path with his peculiar sidelong leaps, now and then
varied by two or three quick short steps as he conveys a snail to his
favourite _abattoir_. This usually consists of a moderate-sized smooth
stone, on which the unfortunate snail is beaten till his house falls
from him; when this is accomplished there is a quick gulp, and he is
gone! Thus refreshed, our friend will mount a near-by twig, clean his
bill by rubbing it several times on either side of his perch, preen and
shake out his feathers a bit, and then resting on one leg he will
whistle his song, which has been rendered by some writers in the
following words:—“Deal o’ wet, deal o’ wet, deal o’ wet, I do, I do, I
do. Who’d do it: Pretty Dick, Pretty Dick, Pretty Dick, Who’d do it.”
This will go on for some time until perhaps he happens to glance down at
the lawn which he considers his especial preserve. Here he sees
something which causes his song to cease in an instant. It is his rival
openly flaunting himself before him. There is a swirl of wings as he
rushes to the attack! They meet! Their bills snap violently, and there
is every prospect of a fight. Then suddenly the rival retreats
precipitately into the nearest bush, hotly pursued by our friend, and we
have time to notice the peculiar way in which the tail and wings are
spread as they disappear. Then we see no more.

Such is the life of one of our commonest birds as we may witness it any
day in early spring. By the end of March, or even earlier, its nest may
be found in some sheltered nook. It is not often more than 10 feet from
the ground, and is generally in the fork of some tree or bush, or on the
beam of some old barn or potting shed; perhaps it may be found in the
middle of a hedgerow, or occasionally even on the ground. It is composed
of rough grass and bents, and lined with mud pressed round and smoothed
so as to form a fairly deep cup.

The eggs are five in number, and in colour are a beautiful pale blue,
with a few small black or purplish-mauve spots towards the larger end,
these markings being in some cases entirely lacking. After a fortnight’s
incubation the young are hatched; they are then almost naked and only
slightly covered with down.

Incubation is carried on by the hen alone, but both birds assist in the
feeding, the diet consisting almost entirely of earth-worms. In about a
fortnight to three weeks after the young are hatched they leave the nest
to find and earn their own living, whilst their parents busy themselves
with the cares of another family, for a pair of birds generally rears
three broods in the season. After the rearing of the last brood, which
is over by the end of June or early in July, both old and young begin to
moult. Consequently, at this time of year they are very quiet and
skulking in their habits, but we may sometimes catch sight of them in
the evenings and early mornings when they come out to feed on lawns and
fields where the grass is short and where their favourite earth-worms
abound. About the end of August a close observer will often miss his
little friend for a few days or even weeks. Then one morning he will
again see the familiar figure on the lawn and think that perhaps his
companion has returned. But it is not so. The spring visitor has gone to
another part of the country, probably not very far away, as this species
is only a partial migrant, but nevertheless he has gone, and the bird
which has taken his place has come from some more northerly locality to
spend the winter. Probably we do not notice the change, and put down the
temporary disappearance of our particular Song Thrush to the fact that
we chanced not to see him. It is not so, however, for our friend of
spring and summer has departed.

The general colour above, including mantle and wings, is uniform olive
brown, some of the major and median covers having buffish tips. Breast
yellowish, spotted with triangular olive-brown spots, the flanks
uniformly olive, chin and throat white, margined with a row of dark
streaks. Belly white. Bill brown, base of lower mandible paler. Legs
pale flesh. Iris hazel. Length 9·0 in.; wing 4·6 in.

Young birds are spotted on the upper parts. This species is widely and
generally distributed throughout the British Isles.



                              THE REDWING
                        Turdus iliacus, Linnæus


From the middle to the end of October, when the leaves are falling
thickly from the trees, and the dull, dark days of winter are beginning
to make themselves felt, we may be aware, while walking along a country
lane or through a park, of a new arrival among our birds. There rises,
probably from the ground, a dark-coloured bird, whose quick movement
will at once catch our eye, and being in company with others similar to
himself, we shall have no difficulty in recognising the Redwing. Tired
possibly by his long journey, he will settle on the hedge a little in
front of us, and begin diligently feeding on any berries he can find, as
but little in that line comes amiss to our friend; and soon he will
again drop to the ground, and we shall get a glimpse of the deep red
feathers under his wings from which he has derived his trivial name. At
this season of the year Redwings are essentially wanderers, moving about
in flocks of from a dozen to thirty or more, stopping here and there
where food is plentiful for a few days or weeks, and then moving on,
always southward, as lack of food or the severity of the weather
dictates. If the winter be mild, they may be found roosting in large
numbers in thick hawthorn hedges or small plantations; for although fond
of cover, and spending most of their time among undergrowth on the
ground, they are not very partial to large woods, preferring thick
hedgerows or small coppices. A cold north wind, accompanied by snow and
frost, drives most of these birds away from our shores to sunnier
climes: their place, however, is soon taken, if the hard weather be
prolonged, by large immigrations of poor storm-driven birds from the
north of the Continent, who reach us with barely sufficient strength to
seek their food, and who receive, too frequently, an inhospitable
reception. Such wanderers become exceedingly tame, and may be found
hopping disconsolately round our gardens within a foot or two of us, and
the mortality in such seasons as these must be very great. Happily this
extreme severity does not often happen, and one is glad to think that as
a rule our visitors, driven to us by hard weather abroad, find
sustenance in our warmer, if still somewhat boisterous, climate.

In April, that strange homing instinct which animates almost every known
bird, causes the Redwings to leave our hedgerows at their most beautiful
time, and to seek a northern home where they may settle down and rear
their young. There, where song-birds are scarce, his little warble,
which would be unnoticed here in our wealth of songsters, is eagerly
awaited, and eulogised as though it were the rich outpourings of a
nightingale. His nest is built on the ground, or just above it at the
foot of some bush, or even in a crevice a short distance up the trunk of
a tree; but if so far north as to be beyond the limit of tree growth, a
sloping bank or the shelter of some boulder will be selected as the
site. The nest is substantially built of grass with a foundation of
twigs, and is similar to that of our Blackbird, to which species also
the eggs, though slightly smaller, bear a close resemblance. Two broods
are sometimes reared in the season, especially in the more southerly
parts of its breeding range, and after the duties of family life are
over, the birds unite in small flocks, lingering in their northern home
till autumnal storms drive them once more among us.

The male in winter is uniform olive brown above. Chest and chin pale
buff, thickly and irregularly streaked with dark brown. Sides of face
dark brown, a light buffish or white superciliary streak running from
the base of the upper mandible over the eye. Flanks deep rich chestnut;
remainder of lower parts white, slightly streaked on the sides with
olive brown. Bill dark horn colour, legs pale flesh. Length 8·75 in.;
wing 4·4 in. The sexes are similar in plumage, but the female is paler
and duller in colour than the male. The young bird is spotted on the
back, and after the autumn moult may still be recognised by the pale
tips to the wing coverts.

Its breeding range extends north of 54° from the Yenesei westward to
Scandinavia, and its breeding in our islands has not as yet been
authenticated. In winter it is found throughout the south of Europe,
extending eastwards through Persia and Turkestan.



                             THE FIELDFARE
                        Turdus pilaris, Linnæus


                [Illustration: FIELDFARE
                _Turdus pilaris_
                Adult (left and centre). Young (right)]

An unwonted note strikes our ears, a sort of “chack” or “chick,” and
looking round we see that it proceeds from a flock of ten or a dozen
birds flying on a straight course high in the air, with quick and
regular wing-beats. At first sight they appear like Missel Thrushes, but
their flight is less erratic, and their unmistakable note tells us that
the last of our migrant Thrushes has arrived to spend the winter with
us. Like the Redwing, the Fieldfare is emphatically a bird of the North,
although, as he always nests in trees, he does not touch high latitudes,
like the Redwing, being restrained in that direction by the limit of
tree growth. In summer the woods of the far north form his home, and, as
if he himself felt the solitude and intense stillness that reigns there,
he breeds generally in small colonies of from ten to a dozen pairs. The
nests are generally placed in the first fork of a birch tree, from 4 to
8 feet above the ground. The eggs closely resemble those of the Missel
Thrush, but are rather smaller. The Fieldfare’s song is very feeble, and
consists of an incoherent warble, varied with the “chack, chack” of his
call-note. However he is not the only denizen of the woods that feels
the need of companionship, as it will generally be found that a few
pairs of Redwings have also nested near the colony, and their more
melodious song is an added element of cheerfulness. Amid such
surroundings the young Fieldfare is hatched, and is carefully tended by
his parents, who supply him with worms, insects, beetles, and in fact
any small living thing that they can capture. They are most bold and
noisy in defence of their young, flying close round an intruder’s head,
and uttering their alarm-note unceasingly. The young bird being duly
fledged, leaves his nest, and in company with others of his own age
wanders about the woods, feeding on insects or any fruit he can find;
while his parents, to make the most of the short summer, busy themselves
with the cares of a second brood. It is not until the first storms and
snows of winter come that the Fieldfare leaves his summer home, though
during the few weeks that have elapsed since he left the nest he may
have wandered aimlessly far from his birthplace. The chill mists of
autumn, however, remind him that he must move south, so reluctantly, as
if clinging to the edge of winter, he finally takes flight, and we in
England hear his “chack, chack” towards the end of October, his numbers
being continually augmented as each fresh northerly blast drives some of
his kind farther and farther south. While with us, as he is essentially
a sociable bird, he attaches himself to wandering flocks of Missel
Thrushes and Redwings, and among the former he may always be
distinguished by his light-coloured rump, which shows up conspicuously
against the darker wings and mantle. Thus he wanders the whole winter
through, feeding chiefly on the hips and haws in the hedges, and
probably also on worms and grubs, for he may frequently be met with in
ploughed fields. At night, with much “chacking,” he goes to roost in
some thick hedge, coppice, or plantation, where, in company with the
Missel Thrushes, he will seek the highest branches, while the Redwing
roosts in the thicker growth below. In hard weather he does not seem to
suffer like the Redwing, possibly from his marked preference for
berries, which even the heaviest snow does not cover. It would seem as
if the long journeys which he has to take were distasteful to him, for
summer is nearly with us before the last Fieldfares have left our
shores, as not uncommonly they may be seen until the middle of May; or
perchance he knows that the inhospitable climate, to which he resorts to
breed, driven by some irresistible and incomprehensible force, will not
till then afford him and his progeny the necessary sustenance. Be that
as it may, we can still hear his cheery voice long after we have left
winter behind us.

The sexes are alike in plumage, but the female is rather paler in
colouring. The adult male in winter has the head and neck slate grey,
the feathers of the crown having dark centres which are hardly
noticeable at this season; mantle and scapulars deep rufous brown; wing
coverts less rufous and showing traces of paler tips. Rump grey; quills
and tail dark brown. Fore-neck pale yellow, streaked with dark brown on
the sides; chest rufous streaked with brown; flank feathers dark brown
with broad white margins concealing the darker colour. Lower breast and
chest white. In summer the pale edgings to the under parts wear off,
causing him to become nearly black on the flanks and lower breast, while
the dark streaks on the crown become much more conspicuous. Bill horn
coloured in winter, yellow in summer. Legs and feet dark brown. Total
length 10 in.; wing 5·5 in. The plumage of the young bird resembles that
of the adult on the back, but the head and rump are much browner; some
of the feathers of the mantle have lightish centres, though the amount
and extent of these varies greatly. Below it is of a uniform pale
yellow, deeper on the breast, each feather having a black terminal
heart-shaped spot.

This species is generally distributed throughout the British Isles from
October to May; breeding throughout Scandinavia, Russia, and Siberia as
far east as the Lena. It does not, as a rule, nest south of the Baltic,
though there are said to be isolated colonies in the high mountain
regions of Central Europe, the Alps, and the Pyrenees. Its winter
migrations extend throughout the whole of Southern Europe and Asia
Minor, including both sides of the Mediterranean basin.



                       THE BLACK-THROATED THRUSH
                      Turdus atrigularis, Temminck


This is an Eastern species, breeding in Siberia from the Ural Mountains
eastwards, and wintering in Persia, Afghanistan, and India. Stragglers
have frequently been obtained in Europe, and two or three examples have
been taken in these islands.

The adult is brown on the upper parts and whitish below, except for the
chin, which is spotted, and the throat and breast, which are black.
Length 9·75 in.; wing 5·45 in.



                             WHITE’S THRUSH
                         Turdus varius, Pallas


A large Thrush, rather bigger than a Missel Thrush, and not unlike that
species in its immature plumage. It is of extremely rare occurrence on
our islands, and has only been obtained in about eight or nine counties
of England, and on three occasions in Ireland.

Young Missel Thrushes have been frequently recorded as belonging to this
species. White’s Thrush may, however, always be distinguished by having
_fourteen_ tail feathers instead of twelve, and the under side of the
wing, which in the Missel Thrush is pure white, has in this species a
broad black bar across the centre.

Its summer home lies across Siberia, east of the Yenesei, through
Northern China and Japan, whence it migrates in winter to South China
and the Philippines.



                             THE BLACKBIRD
                         Turdus merula, Linnæus


Mingling with the Song Thrushes on the lawn, but always recognisable by
his much longer tail and darker colour, we may at all times of the year
see the Blackbird. He is hardly so familiar as his neighbour the Thrush,
and prefers to keep near the shrubbery, where, on the least sign of real
or imaginary danger, he may retire, and by remaining motionless be
secure from observation; but if we follow him, and approach too near, he
will fly away, uttering his loud alarm-note of “Cluck, cluck!” He will
not be long away, however, and if we remain quiet he will soon be back
again, crossing the lawn with long, measured hops, stopping now and
again to look round and to spread and “flirt” his broad fan-shaped tail.
The Missel Thrush will be sitting on the eggs, and the Song Thrush will
have nearly completed her nest, before our sable friend begins to think
of matrimonial cares. Towards the end of February his clear flute-like
notes will be heard from the shrubbery or hedgerow—a song which, if more
mellow in tone, is far shorter and more monotonous than that of the Song
Thrush, although the performance of some individual Blackbirds is longer
and more pleasing. He will now sing almost continuously, with the
exception of a few short intervals spent in chasing his mate, who,
unlike him, wears a dull suit of russet brown. And he will have to prove
himself a _preux chevalier_ ere he can win his lady fair, for there will
almost certainly be two or three other suitors to fight, and the victor
alone can claim the lady, while the ousted competitors retire from the
field. This extreme combativeness makes the species appear scarcer than
is really the case, as each pair will claim suzerain rights over a
comparatively large space. The nest is built low down in some bush or
hedgerow, on the ground in a bank, in a furze bush or on a heath, and is
formed entirely of grass and bents, with a little mud for the
foundation, but well lined with finer bents; it is rather larger in
diameter, and shallower, than that of the Thrush. The eggs, four to six
in number, have a pale blue ground colour, thickly mottled with reddish
markings, sometimes uniformly distributed over its surface, at others
confined to broader blotches forming a ring round its larger end, or
again, in some cases, the markings may be entirely absent. The young,
like those of most Thrushes, are fed almost entirely on earthworms,
though insects are also swallowed; two or three broods are reared in the
season, and as summer advances and fruit ripens, visits are paid to the
neighbouring orchards and gardens, the spoils from which form, during
the season, a very large proportion of their diet, so there is no doubt
that the gardeners’ complaints of them are only too well justified. With
the advent of the migration season in September and October large
numbers leave our shores, only, we fear, to be caught and eaten by our
neighbours across the Channel, where members of the Thrush family are
considered great delicacies. Many however remain, spending the winter in
thick hedgerows, shrubberies, and woods, or anywhere in fact where there
is a bush high enough to shelter them. Furze-covered commons are
favourite localities, as are also the open heather-covered tops of low
hills.

                [Illustration: BLACKBIRD
                _Turdus merula_
                Adult male (centre). Adult female (right). Young (left)]

Our friends, however, do not all follow the laws of migration; some do
not leave the neighbourhood of their home unless driven away by stronger
rivals. And so it happens that year by year, as winter relaxes its
grasp, we can see our orange-billed friend on his accustomed perch in
hedge or bush singing away in full consciousness that his own power has
earned him the right to do so, and quite prepared to defend it again and
again, till in course of time he is ousted by another minstrel, who
reigns in his stead by the law that “might is right.” The Blackbirds
found migrating along our shores are either the surplus population,
driven farther afield by competition, or wanderers from the colder parts
of the Continent of Europe from which it regularly migrates.

_The male_ is of a uniform deep glossy black, with bright orange bill.
Legs and feet black. Iris hazel. Young males in their first winter have
a black bill. Total length 10·1 in.; wing 5 in.

_The female_ is of a uniform dull sooty brown above; chin greyish, with
dark brown streaks; chest reddish brown, each feather with a darker tip,
giving it a mottled appearance. Flanks dark brown, sometimes mottled
with lighter. Vent sooty grey.

The young of both sexes resemble the female in general appearance, but
the feathers of the head and back have light shafts. Young males are a
shade darker in colour. Generally distributed throughout the British
Isles, except Shetland and the Outer Hebrides, where it only occurs on
migration.



                            THE DUSKY THRUSH
                        Turdus dubius, Bechstein


This species breeds in Eastern Siberia, from the valley of the Yenesei
to the Pacific. Several stragglers have been obtained at different times
in Europe, but the only British example was shot in 1905 near Gunthorpe,
Notts.

The general colour is greyish brown above, streaked with darker,
becoming more rufous on the rump. Quills broadly margined with rufous.
Below white, breast and flanks boldly marked with black; under wing
coverts and axillaries rufous.



                             THE RING OUZEL
                       Turdus torquatus (Linnæus)


“Chuck, chuck”—“chuck, chuck, chuck!” The note is strangely reminiscent
of the Fieldfare, but it is now June, and even the latest stragglers of
that species have left us. We are on a hillside in Wales, below us lies
the Irish Channel, with hardly a ripple on its surface, the hill itself
is almost covered with a short growth of furze and heather, the
intervening spaces being carpeted with short moss and grass, kept well
cropped by the hardy race of sheep for which the Principality is justly
famous. “Chuck, chuck”—this time we catch a glimpse of the bird, the
beautiful white half-moon on his breast showing up clearly against the
black of the rest of his plumage as he sits on one of the boulders that
project through the vegetation and refuse to be hidden. He rises, and
making a swift semicircular flight, pitches on another point of vantage,
whilst the hen also appears and regards us with anxiety. However, as we
stay still, she presently disappears, and he, ceasing his monotonous
note, hops behind a tussock of grass, and all is quiet. Suddenly he
reappears with a fine insect in his beak; we are still regarded with
suspicion, and the clucking note is often repeated as he flies round us
several times, continually settling for a few seconds to make sure
whether our presence is for good or ill before he betrays the
whereabouts of his nest, the all-absorbing interest of his life at the
present time. Soon he takes another flight, and we lose sight of him as
he disappears in a small gully. Following quickly we are just able to
see his mate come from the steep side of the ravine, and almost
simultaneously he appears and joins her in fluttering round us in a
terrible state of agitation, and doubtless with a feeling that had he
been more patient we should have gone away without finding his home. As,
however, his cries produce no effect, he flies off and settles some
distance away. A few feet down the bank, and cunningly hidden near a
sheep-path, underneath an overhanging tuft, is the nest, built almost
entirely of grass and bents, as is the case with most of the Thrushes,
but with little or no mud. The young, four in number, being well grown,
scramble out of the nest, calling out at the same time, and bringing
their parents round us again, more vociferous than ever. We have,
however, no evil intentions, and having satisfied our curiosity we
continue our walk. Suddenly a bird rises from behind a stone at our
feet, flies a few yards, and disappears round another boulder, this
action is repeated several times, till finally, becoming really alarmed,
he flies rapidly away over the spur of the hill. His plumage is
uniformly dark, just a little lighter on the breast, and we recognise
(if we did not already know it) a young bird strongly on the wing; a few
yards farther on we see a hen bird, possibly his mother; she leaves her
nest with four eggs, which much resemble those of a Blackbird. The nest
was placed on the ground, under the shelter of a bramble. On all the
moorlands and hills of the British Isles this Ring Ouzel may be found
during the summer, nesting either as already described, or in holes of
old walls, barns, or in fact wherever a spot can be found well concealed
and sheltered from the wind. Towards the end of September he leaves his
summer home and is then generally distributed throughout the country,
although often overlooked owing to his resemblance to a Blackbird when
seen from a short distance. Watch him, however, till he settles, for
when alarmed he invariably perches on the top of the hedge before
dropping down the other side, while the Blackbird, with his
characteristic motion of the tail, enters the hedge at once low down on
the near side. The Ring Ouzel is not at home in the cultivated lowlands,
and by the end of October they have all left the country.

                [Illustration: RING OUZEL
                _Turdus torquatus_
                Adult male (left). Adult female (above). Young (right)]

In Cornwall and Devon they reappear again at the end of February, and
working their way northwards through Wales, commence to nest early in
April, as soon as spring has made itself felt on the hills. A few may
spend the winter in our most south-western counties, and it is probable
that our home-bred birds travel entirely by a western route, and that
the birds met with in the east and southeast of the country are all
foreign bred, for till the end of April birds are found still pursuing
their northward journey to lands beyond ours.

The general colour of the upper parts is brownish black, with lighter
margins to the wing coverts. Under parts brownish black with broad white
crescentic gorget. The female is lighter, and has a narrow gorget. In
autumn both sexes have the feathers margined with grey. Length 10 in.;
wing 5·5 in.



                            THE ROCK THRUSH
                     Monticola saxatilis (Linnæus)


The Rock Thrush is an Eastern species that breeds sparingly from Central
Europe eastwards through Southern Siberia and North China, and
southwards in Greece, the Balkans, Asia Minor, and Persia. It has only
once been obtained in our islands, namely in Hertfordshire in 1843.

The male is greyish blue on the head, neck, and mantle; white on the
rump, tail and under parts bright chestnut. The female is speckled brown
above, chin and throat whitish, breast and under parts buff mottled with
brown. Length 7·5 in.; wing 4·75 in.



                              THE WHEATEAR
                       Saxicola œnanthe (Linnæus)


                [Illustration: WHEATEAR
                _Saxicola œnanthe_
                Adult male (right). Female (centre). Young in autumn
    (left)]

Before the March winds have subsided, and while the trees and all
vegetation are still in their winter sleep, the first of the Wheatears
appears in the south-west of England. A lively and sprightly little chap
is he, as he sits on a tussock of grass or on a fence, jerking his tail,
or darting with a quick sharp flight to some other elevation, showing,
as he does so, his conspicuous white rump, while his dark wing feathers
and tail and grey back prevent the passer-by from mistaking him for any
other species. He is a bird of the open, preferring large sandy
stretches or wide moorlands, and it is only during migration that he
affects woodlands and the more cultivated districts. As a rule the male
birds are the first to arrive, being followed in about a week or ten
days by the hens and less vigorous males. Having chosen his mate, about
the first or second week in April, he will begin to look for a
nesting-site, generally a little way down a rabbit-burrow, or in
moorland districts a hole or crevice of a rock or stone wall will be
chosen, but wherever placed it will be secure from observation. The nest
is loosely built of grass, moss, rabbit fleck, fur, and feathers, or any
material that comes handy, and having laid six or seven eggs of a
uniform pale-blue colour the hen commences her business of incubation,
in which the cock takes no part. He is, however, in constant attendance
in the vicinity of the nest, frequently uttering his apology for a song,
which consists merely of a few notes carelessly strung together, singing
apparently rather from exuberance of spirits than because he really
appreciates music, for often, as a spider or other insect comes within
his range of vision, he will suddenly break off his song, seize the
tempting morsel, and fly up again with his sharp “chack, chack.” The
nest is somewhat difficult to find, and as a rule can only be discovered
by watching the hen bird, who may be recognised by her browner tints;
if, however, she suspects you of watching her, she will refuse to return
for some considerable time. If you allow your attention to be diverted,
she will seize the opportunity to dart home, and your trouble will have
been in vain. With the wants, however, of six children to attend to, she
will betray less caution; both parents then look after the young, and
they may be watched with comparative ease, as, having secured a luscious
beakful of insects, spiders especially being a great delicacy, they hop
or dart with their peculiar sharp flight from point to point, till
finally they are gone, and on approaching the spot where they vanished,
you will suddenly see them reappear from some hole or cranny.

The young leave the nest as soon as they are able to hop and flutter,
and are then jealously guarded by their parents, who fly round in great
excitement if you approach too near. They are soon well on the wing,
however, and the old birds are free to burden themselves with another
family. During the early part of May, a large variety of the Wheatear
may sometimes be seen, most frequently along the sea-shore; these are
birds whose home is in the Far North, and which regularly pass through
these islands at this time. They are larger and finer birds which have
wintered in Africa and have remained on in Southern climes, refusing to
be lured away when their English brethren left, but, judging their time
as accurately as though possessed of the most reliable of calendars,
they leave their tropical winter home when spring in temperate regions
has well advanced. Not to be tempted by the attractions our country can
offer in its most delightful month, they pursue their journey with
restless energy to the apparently inhospitable shores of Greenland.
These wanderers, however, do not concern us much; they are gone, and our
summer residents are busy with their second brood, and when this is
hatched, young and old spend the rest of the warm weather in their home;
renewing their plumage, and preparing themselves for the shortening days
of autumn, when they pass away to the sunny shores of the Mediterranean
and to North Africa, though a few stragglers may possibly be found
during the winter in some warm and sheltered nook of Cornwall or Devon.
They have gone—October has brought the cold weather, trees are rapidly
becoming bare—we go out one morning and find to our surprise that
apparently our summer friend has returned; by the next morning he is
gone again, and we realise that these passing birds had only stopped to
rest before undertaking another night stage on their long journey from
the Arctic.

The male is grey on the head, neck, and back; wings black; rump,
forehead, and superciliary streak white; lores and ear coverts black.
Tail feathers, except the two central ones, which are black, white with
broad black tips; underparts white, buffish on the throat and breast;
under wing coverts mottled with dark grey and white. The female is brown
on the back and ear coverts and much more buff below. The young are
greyer and spotted above and below with buff. Length (of small race) 6
in.; wing 3·75 in.



                        THE ISABELLINE WHEATEAR
                      Saxicola isabellina, Rüppell


This is a south-eastern species inhabiting the plains of South Russia
and Asia Minor in summer, and being a permanent resident in Palestine,
Egypt, and East Africa. Only one example has been known in Western
Europe; it was shot in Cumberland on November 11, 1887.

This species very closely resembles the Common Wheatear, but may be
distinguished as follows: It is more tawny, has more black in its tail,
and the under wing coverts are _white_. Length 6·5 in.; wing 3·9 in.



                        THE BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR
               Saxicola stapazina (Linnæus) nec Vieillot


The home of this species is in Southern Europe and North Africa. It has
occurred in Sussex on three occasions during both the autumn and spring
migrations.

Frontal line, lores, and a large patch extending backwards beyond the
ear coverts, wings and wing coverts, black; mantle and breast rufous,
rest of the plumage including the throat white. In the female the black
is replaced by brownish and the upper parts are brownish grey. Length
about 5 in.; wing 3·5 in.


(_N.B._—The name _stapazina_ has, until recently, been used for the next
species, whose proper name is _occidentalis_.)



                      THE BLACK-THROATED WHEATEAR
                    Saxicola occidentalis, Salvadori


This is a very common summer visitor to the south of Europe, breeding
regularly in France as far north as the Loire. It has occurred here on
two or three occasions only.

In the male the crown and upper back are golden buff; wings black; under
parts pale buffish white; under wing coverts _black_. The female is
duller and browner. Length 5·6 in.; wing 3·5 in.



                          THE DESERT WHEATEAR
                       Saxicola deserti, Rüppell


This, as its name implies, is a southern desert species and is found
widely distributed throughout North Africa and Egypt, to Persia and
Afghanistan. It has been taken in Great Britain on at least three
occasions—twice in Scotland and once in Yorkshire. It somewhat resembles
the preceding species, but may always be distinguished by its tail,
which is black almost to the base. Length 5·6 in.; wing 3·6 in.



                              THE WHINCHAT
                      Pratincola rubetra (Linnæus)


A merry little fellow is he, arriving in this country with our other
summer migrants about the middle of April. His haunts are open fields
and pastures, so that he does not often come across his near relation
the Stonechat, whom in actions, and to some extent in dress, he clearly
resembles.

You will generally first have your attention drawn to him by hearing his
well-known note of “u-tick” as you walk across the field, and looking
round you will see a small thick-set bird, hanging on to some slender
stem which happens to be taller than its fellows; if you approach nearer
he will fly a little farther on and settle again. His flight, and the
habit of settling on some outstanding stem or spray, is very reminiscent
of the Stonechat, but in spring his much paler breast and dark-striped
head and buffish face will prevent any confusion. The hens and the young
more closely approach in general appearance to the allied species, but
the lesser amount of white on the tail and on the head may generally be
noted.

Soon after they arrive the nest is begun; this is built on the ground,
either under a tussock of grass, or more preferably, if possible, in a
sloping bank. It is loosely constructed of grass and bents, and lined
with horse hair. The eggs, six or even seven in number, are pale blue,
very like those of the Stonechat, but bluer and with less of a greenish
hue; as a rule they are absolutely unspotted, but occasionally a few
minute rusty specks are present at the larger end. The hen alone sits,
but both parents attend to the young. As soon as the first brood is on
the wing, generally by the end of May, the parent birds busy themselves
with the cares of another family, after which they wander about the open
and unenclosed country, till, at the end of August and during the first
half of September, they leave our shores for the summer regions of the
south.

The male has the upper parts dark brown, mottled with buff. There is a
clear, white, superciliary streak; tail feathers dark brown with white
bases; wings brown, showing a conspicuous white patch near the body.
Under parts bright fawn colour, turning to buff on the belly. The female
is similar, but paler and duller; the young resemble the hen, but are
slightly spotted on the breast. Length 5·25 in.; wing 3 in.

The species is generally distributed in England, except on the
south-west, where it only occurs on migration. In Scotland it is local
but widely distributed. In Ireland it breeds in the north, but only
occurs in the south on migration.



                             THE STONECHAT
                     Pratincola rubicola (Linnæus)


On any rough common, where furze or tangles of bramble form almost the
only cover, you may see the Stonechat; summer and winter alike he is
there, brightening with his deep chestnut breast and jet-black head and
back the otherwise comparatively lifeless spot.

You cannot miss him, or rather, he will not miss you, for as you
approach he will rise and settle on the topmost spray of some furze
bush, or possibly on the tall stem of grass or thistle.

Jerking his tail with the quivering movement characteristic of his
tribe, as though it were on a spring, or uttering his little call of
“Tick, tick,” he will move ahead with dipping flight to some other point
of vantage as you approach, and display as he does so the white on his
tail and wings. A bright and happy little chap he is! Living in the open
country-side the whole year through, finding there plenty of food, which
consists chiefly of caterpillars and other insects, even in our
inhospitable winters. Early in April he chooses his mate and sets up
housekeeping: the nest, which is loosely built of grass and moss and
lined with hair, is very well concealed, being placed near the ground in
the centre of a clump of furze or bramble. There, protected by the
natural _chevaux de frise_, the six pure blue eggs are laid, and in due
course the young are hatched. The male does not sit, but is always to be
seen in the vicinity of the nest, and continually brings tit-bits to his
mate. Both parents tend the young with great care, and after they have
left the nest the family may often be found wandering about together,
the male on the approach of danger sitting on the topmost sprays of some
bush, while his family remain concealed in the cover, following him
singly or two or three at a time as he moves on. A second brood is
generally reared in the season, and in autumn, after the moult, a
certain amount of wandering takes place, generally in family parties,
and at such times we may frequently find them in turnip fields, or on
the edge of thick hedgerows, in cultivated country. These wanderings,
however, do not generally extend to any great distance from their true
home, to which, or to some neighbouring common, they return to spend the
winter.

The plumage of the young is brown. The full-grown female resembles the
male except that the colouring is less brilliant, and the white markings
are not so conspicuous. The male has the head, throat, and back black; a
patch on either side of the neck white; tail and wings dark brown with a
conspicuous white patch on the wing coverts; breast and under parts
bright rufous, lighter on the abdomen. The female has the upper parts
striped with brown and the throat spotted with black. The white patches
are smaller. The young are mottled and spotted with brown all over.
Length 5 in.; wing 2·55 in.

                [Illustration: STONECHAT
                _Pratincola rubicola_
                Male (right). Female (left)]



                         THE SIBERIAN STONECHAT
                        Pratincola maura, Pallas


This is the representative of the preceding species in Northern Europe
and Asia. One example only has been shot on our shores, viz. a male, in
Norfolk, on September 2, 1904.

It is characterised by the pure white rump, but in other respects
closely resembles the Common Stonechat.



                              THE REDSTART
                     Ruticilla phœnicurus (Linnæus)


Coming with the rush of our spring warblers, the Redstart, by its bright
plumage, soon makes his arrival manifest. No one can mistake him, as
with black head, white forehead, and red breast he sits on some tree in
the garden, or on one of the pollard willows that fringe the stream, his
tail vibrating with that curious sideway motion peculiar to his kind. It
is in these early April days that he is seen to best advantage, staying
in favoured spots till the advent of others of his tribe, a few days
later, causes him to select both mate and nesting-site, after which he
drives to “fresh fields and pastures new” those of his kind who seem
inclined to throw too amorous glances on his chosen mate. A hole in a
tree on the outskirts of a wood, along a river, or in a park, is the
selected spot for their residence. The nest is loosely constructed of
moss lined with hair, and in it are laid five to six eggs of a delicate
blue colour much resembling those of the Hedge Sparrow. The hen is a
much duller coloured bird than the cock, but with a red tail, which she
moves with the same characteristic motion; she undertakes alone the
duties of incubation, her lord and master keeping her well fed with
insects, flies, and any living creature of suitable size that he is able
to capture. In the intervals of catering for her or while listlessly
waiting for “a bite,” he will trill out his little song, which is,
however, very feeble in quality as in quantity, for it consists merely
of a disconnected ramble through a few short strains that are repeated
again and again.

The male has the crown, nape, and mantle dark slate grey, rump and tail
feathers (except the two centre ones, which are brown) chestnut.
Forehead white; chin, throat, and cheeks black. Under parts, including
the axillaries and under wing coverts, chestnut. The female is brown on
the whole of the upper parts except the rump and tail, which are
chestnut as in the male but duller. Under parts dull rufous. The young
in their first plumage are spotted above and below. In winter both sexes
have broad dull margins to their feathers, which conceal, to a great
extent, the bright colours of the male. Length 5·4 in.; wing 3·1 in.

                [Illustration: REDSTART
                _Ruticilla phœnicura_
                Male (right). Female (left)]

This species is fairly common in England except in the south-west, where
it becomes very rare. In Scotland it is local but widely distributed. In
Ireland, however, it is only known to breed in one or two counties.



                           THE BLACK REDSTART
                       Ruticilla titys (Scopoli)


The Black Redstart occurs with us as a regular autumn migrant but only
in small numbers, frequently remaining till well on in winter. On the
Continent south of 52° it is an extremely abundant summer visitor,
becoming more numerous in the east. In the southern limits of its range
and in North Africa it is resident, though its numbers become augmented
each season by individuals that have bred farther north.

The male is extremely dark in appearance and may be easily recognised
from the Common Redstart by its uniformly black breast, the white outer
margins to the secondaries, and black under wing coverts. The hen is
much darker than our bird, especially on the back, which is of a uniform
umber brown, but the unfailing characteristic of this species in all
plumages and at all seasons is the _dark brown or blackish under wing
coverts_. Length 5·75 in.; wing 3·4 in.



                             THE BLUETHROAT
                      Cyanecula suecica (Linnæus)


There are two forms of this species, one in which the blue throat
exhibits a red spot, and the other in which the blue throat exhibits a
white spot. The former form is found breeding in Northern Europe and
Siberia, wintering chiefly in South Asia and North-Eastern Africa; while
the latter breeds in Central Europe south of the Baltic. The females and
young of the two forms are practically indistinguishable. It seems
probable that a few examples of this species occur annually on migration
along our eastern coasts, but much more numerously in some years than in
others. These visitors are for the most part immature, and until
recently all the adult males that had been taken belonged to the
northern or red-spotted form. During the last five years, however, two
examples of the white-spotted form have been obtained on the Sussex
coast. There is a variety of the white-spotted form in which the throat
is unspotted, but it has not yet been satisfactorily identified in this
country.

When on migration they will generally be found skulking in hedges and
undergrowth near the coast.

The male has the upper parts of a warm brown. There is a white stripe
passing through the eye; the upper tail coverts and bases of the tail
feathers bright bay, rest of tail dark brown. Chin, throat, and gorget
brilliant ultramarine blue, succeeded by bands of black, white, and bay;
rest of under parts whitish. In the female the whole of the under parts
are whitish with a brownish band across the chest. The young in first
plumage is not unlike a young Redbreast, but has bases of the tail
feathers bay. Length 5·3 in.; wing 2·85 in.

The name _suecica_ refers strictly to the red-spotted form, the
white-spotted form having been named _wolfi_ by C. L. Brehm in 1822.



                               THE ROBIN
                      Erithacus rubecula (Linnæus)


Of all our British birds, none perhaps has gained so complete a hold
upon our imaginations, and the more sympathetic side of our nature, than
our red-breasted friend. He is a welcome guest in every home in the
kingdom, and in turn acknowledges the compliment by trusting us as do
few of our native birds. It is in winter perhaps that we know him best;
however cold and stormy the weather, he always appears happy, cheerful,
and sprightly, as he hops along the garden path or seeks his breakfast
at the dining-room window, returning thanks by a brilliant but short
outburst of song from some neighbouring bush or wall.

He has only one fault, and that is extreme pugnacity—other birds (not
excluding that great bully the Sparrow) live in awe of him and keep a
respectful distance, but it is a different matter with those of his own
kind who are always “spoiling for a fight.” As soon as one has found a
good point of vantage, or, if he be not too hungry, some dainty morsel,
he will call out with a peculiar shrill single syllabled “tzsee,” as
much as to say, “I have found something good and dare you to take it.”
This challenge is almost sure to be taken up and swiftly repeated, not
once but many times. The challenged one will slowly approach, there will
be a short sharp fight, not much damage apparently being done to either
combatant, and away will go the vanquished, while the victor, having
eaten the “bone of dissension,” fluffs out his feathers, reels off a few
bars of his song, and then flies off to repeat the performance
elsewhere. So the winter passes, till gradually, as spring comes round,
and with it other birds, we are apt to forget our little winter friend,
his memory being only kept alive by occasional glimpses of a red breast
in the thicket or on the ivy covering the wall. The Robin who cheered us
in the cold winter days, though we are perhaps unaware of the fact, has
_really_ gone, being engaged in bringing up his brood in some other part
of the country, and his place has been taken by another from the south.
There was probably a short interregnum, but we did not notice it,
imagining probably that more abundant food had caused him to refuse the
modest pittance of bread-crumbs that we were accustomed to put out daily
for his especial benefit. The new-comer is certainly rather a shyer
bird, at least we see less of him, but he is too busy to hang round the
house; when he first comes he has to make sure of his footing, any
rivals within call have to be disposed of, not in the half-hearted
happy-go-lucky way that was good enough during the winter, but
effectually disposed of once and for all. His next care is the choosing
of a comfortable site for his nest; this is generally in some hole in a
bank or wall, at no great height from the ground, and concealed with
considerable care. The nest itself is chiefly composed of moss, with a
lining of horsehair carefully felted together. The Robin is an early
breeder, the nest being often completed by the end of February or early
in March, but the eggs, usually six in number and of a pale reddish-buff
colour, sometimes nearly white with red spots, are not, as a rule, laid
till quite the end of March or beginning of April. As is customary in
this family the incubation is carried on by the hen alone, while he
roams about the vicinity, feeding her as opportunity offers, or sitting
on some twig trilling forth his song. After the young are hatched he has
but little time for singing, and has to work with a will to keep the six
hungry youngsters satisfied, the hen also assisting him. When they leave
the nest the young are clad in a uniformly mottled greyish-green
plumage, which, however, is soon moulted, and they then become like
their parents.

                [Illustration: ROBIN
                _Erithacus rubecula_
                Adult (right). Young (left)]

The first brood off their hands, the parents busy themselves with a
second, and sometimes even with a third, and then towards the end of
July they become restless, and both old and young are seen no more in
their summer haunts. We shall not have long to wait however,—probably
some casual wanderers will frequently be seen, here to-day and gone
to-morrow, wandering about in an irresponsive manner as the spirit moves
them—but as the leaves fall and the days shorten, these wanderings will
cease, and we shall find a cheery robin at our windows day after day, a
bright spot of vigorous life in the midst of the sleeping vegetation,
till we lose him again in the following spring amid the bustle and rush
of reawakening life.

The sexes are practically alike and have the upper parts olive brown;
frontal band, lore, chin, throat, and upper breast reddish orange,
bordered on the throat and breast with bluish grey; flanks brown; rest
of under parts white. Length 5·75 in.; wing 3 in.



                            THE NIGHTINGALE
                       Daulias luscinia (Linnæus)


The name of this bird is familiar to every one—ornithologist or
otherwise. Poets have sung his praises for centuries, and not in vain,
for there are few who do not in consequence feel a desire to hear this
unsurpassed musician of the bird world. Like all good things, however,
our songster does not overwhelm us with his melody. On his arrival in
this country, about the third week in April, he bursts forth, pouring
out his ecstasy in glorious and varied song. What a thrill it gives us
as we listen on a warm spring evening to the liquid notes bubbling forth
and resounding through the still air. He pauses for breath, and we can
then hear in the distance the voice of another and yet another answering
the song, the more distant warbling sounding as echoes of our own
musician, till the whole country-side is full of exquisite melody. We
retire, feeling in ourselves the magic of that “breath of spring” which
has brought the ever-welcome wanderer to our shores once more. To
attempt to describe that song in words would be impossible; loud and
clear with full-toned deep liquid notes, now rising with impassioned
fervour, and then, suddenly stopping, he recommences after a telling
pause with a low plaintive cry. There is no mistaking it when heard; it
is the trained voice breathing soul and fire with every note, compared
with which the songs of our other birds, however bright and joyous, are
like dismal pipings.

                [Illustration: NIGHTINGALE
                _Daulias luscinia_]

Soon after his arrival comes his mate, and then the song will be at its
best and continue both day and night, till one wonders how and when he
can sleep. Nest-building is begun almost immediately; a site is chosen
on the ground in some thicket, and a delicate cup is formed of dead
leaves loosely laid together with a lining of horse hair and other finer
materials. The eggs are of a uniform dark olive green and are generally
six in number. The hen alone sits, and when disturbed hops away silently
from her nest, rendering it very difficult to be discovered. Small woods
and coppices are the situations most popular with these birds,
especially narrow strips of woodland bordering fields, to which they
often make excursions in search of their food. This consists entirely of
insects; spiders and flies forming the greater bulk, though no insect
comes amiss. These are almost entirely sought for on the ground, and in
fact he very seldom seeks the upper branches of the trees or bushes,
preferring to remain hidden in their lower recesses.

As soon as the young are hatched the song ceases, and a harsh croak is
the only sound emitted as he watches us passing near his nest. One brood
only is reared, and then they seem to disappear from our “ken.” Shy and
silent birds, always keeping to the thick cover, they spend a few weeks
quietly, feeding on the abundance of insects provided at this time of
year, and then when the moult is over and they are strengthened for
their journey, they leave us for their sunny winter home in Africa,
while we remain behind to cherish, amidst gales and rain, the memories
of those glad spring nights.

The plumage above is warm brown, passing to reddish brown on the tail
and tail coverts; under parts greyish white, buffish on the flanks and
breast. The young have light centres to the feathers of the upper parts
and are indistinctly barred on the breast. Length 6·5 in.; wing 3·35 in.

In our islands this species has a very restricted range, being only
known to the south-east of a line from the Humber to the Severn. In
Shropshire and South Wales it is sometimes heard, and the same may be
said of Devonshire, where, however, of late years a pair or two have
nested annually.

(This species sometimes exceeds in size the Greater Nightingale or
“Sprosser,” which has been recorded from this country, but our bird may
always be recognised by the larger bastard primary, which in the
“Sprosser” is minute.)



                            THE WHITETHROAT
                       Sylvia cinerea, Bechstein


                [Illustration: WHITETHROAT
                _Sylvia cinerea_]

Quiet and unobtrusive in his colouring, and like all his class retiring
in his habits, this extremely common summer visitor is often hardly
noticed. Early in April the Whitethroats begin to arrive, and from then
to the end of the month populate our hedgerows in ever-increasing
numbers. When he first comes he may be seen sitting on some outstanding
twig or on the telegraph wires that border the road, trilling forth his
short but pleasing song, which, like that of most warblers, is a mere
medley of notes put together without any apparent order or meaning,
though to our little brown friend himself it is doubtless pleasing, and
it is indicative of the vigour and energy he feels with the prospect of
the return of summer. Anon he will drop from his perch into the hedge,
throwing up his tail as he does so, rather after the manner of a
Blackbird, and will rapidly wend his way by means of short leaps from
twig to twig, giving him apparently a creeping motion, whence his local
name of “Nettle-creeper.”

On the arrival of his mate a few days after himself, they set up
housekeeping with little or no delay. The nest is a very delicate
structure built low down in some bush, or in a clump of nettles on the
outside of the hedge, it is composed of grass and bents lightly but
strongly interwoven and lined with a few horsehairs, and though looking
very fragile and thin, it serves its purpose well. The eggs, four to six
in number, are of a yellowish-olive colour blotched and spotted,
especially near the larger end, with purplish blue. The hen alone sits,
while her mate warbles his song to relieve her tedium, or searches for
insects and flies, which he continually brings her. The young are
hatched in about eleven days, and in another fortnight are hopping about
accompanied by their parents, who still tend them for a short time, till
the cares of another family engross their attention. For the rest of the
summer these birds may be found in small parties in woods, fields,
furze, commons, or hedgerows, wherever cover is to be obtained, feeding
on caterpillars, flies, and insects, of which there is an abundance at
that time of year. In July and August they renew their worn plumage and
become extremely fat, and then when the September equinox warns them
that the best of the summer is past, they go southwards to the shores of
the Mediterranean and to Africa, there to pass the winter till returning
spring once more prompts them to risk the perils of the journey and to
revisit their summer home.

The male has the head and neck dark grey, mantle and wings brown with
broad rufous edges to the secondaries. Tail feathers brown, except the
outer pair that are white and the next pair that are tipped with white.
Under parts white, fading to pale vinous on the breast and flanks. The
female is duller and has the head brown; the young are rather more
tawny. Length 5·5 in.; wing 2·8 in.

This bird is common throughout the United Kingdom except the extreme
North of Scotland.



                         THE LESSER WHITETHROAT
                        Sylvia curruca (Linnæus)


                [Illustration: LESSER WHITETHROAT
                _Sylvia curruca_]

The Lesser Whitethroat arrives a little later than the preceding
species, namely about the end of April, and at once disperses throughout
our woods and coppices and sets to work nest-building. The nest is still
more fragile than the Whitethroat’s and lacks the lining of horsehair.
It is generally placed moderately high up, about four or six feet from
the ground, in a bush or hedge bordering a coppice. The eggs, four to
six, are of a light cream ground colour, with a zone of dark spots round
the larger end. The hen sits very closely and does not leave her eggs
unless almost touched; she does not then fly, but hops quietly away into
the undergrowth, where she remains motionless till the danger, real or
imaginary, has gone. The young when fledged resemble their parents, and
two broods are as a rule reared. Its song is a monotonous “Sip, sip,
sip,” repeated again and again.

Although by no means scarce, it is seldom seen unless specially searched
for, most of its time being spent quietly hopping about the undergrowth
searching for food, which consists almost entirely of minute insects,
small caterpillars, etc. etc. It is never seen in flocks, even when
migrating, a few family parties in autumn being the most that are ever
noticed together.

This bird has no distinctive plumage, and except for its note is very
difficult to identify. The crown is smoke grey, cheeks and rest of the
upper parts brownish grey, the outer feathers of the tail having white
outer webs. Under parts whitish, becoming buff on the flanks. Bill
black; legs slate colour. Length 5·25 in.; wing 2·6 in. The female and
young are rather duller in colour.

In our southern, eastern, and midland counties it is a fairly abundant
summer visitor; in the West and North of England and South of Scotland
it is decidedly rare, and over the rest of our islands it is a very
irregular straggler and has only once occurred in Ireland.



                           THE ORPHÆN WARBLER
                        Sylvia orphea, Temminck


This species nests abundantly in Spain and more sparingly in the South
of France, but has been taken in this country on at least two occasions,
on both of which the evidence pointed to its breeding or having bred
with us. The eggs, except in size, are much like those of the Lesser
Whitethroat.

The bird itself much resembles a Blackcap, but the throat and breast are
_white_ and the three outer pairs of tail feathers show some white. The
female is rather duller and browner. Length 6 in.; wing 3·1 in.



                         THE SARDINIAN WARBLER
                      Sylvia melanocephala, Gmelin


This small species, which is not unlike the Blackcap in general
appearance, has a comparatively restricted distribution, being
practically confined to the Mediterranean basin. The only British
specimen that has hitherto been obtained was shot on June 3, 1907, in
Sussex.

General colour of upper parts dark grey, except the head, which is
black. Lower parts white, greyish on the flanks. Length 5·5 in.; wing
2·5 in.



                              THE BLACKCAP
                      Sylvia atricapilla (Linnæus)


Those whose good fortune does not allow them to live within earshot of
the Nightingale, point to the Blackcap as having a song little, if at
all, inferior to that of the prince of songsters.

Comparisons are at all times odious and in this case misleading, for to
our mind no comparison can possibly be made between the two; the song is
not only different, but lacks also the passion and tone so
characteristic of the Nightingale.

Although a few Blackcaps sometimes winter in Devon, they are really
migrants, and we gladly welcome this little bird when he makes his
appearance in the spring. He will not often be seen, for, like all his
tribe, he delights in woods and coppices, keeping low down in their
leafy shade, and hopping along quietly from branch to branch as we
approach.

His nest is very slight, made of dry grass lightly woven together and
lined with a little horsehair. The eggs are very variable, being usually
of a dirty creamish colour, blotched and spotted with darker brown, or
sometimes of a reddish tint with dark red spots. Their food consists
almost entirely of insects, and it is on this diet that the young are
reared, but as the berries and fruit ripen in the hedges or our gardens
a large toll is taken, especially of currants and raspberries, of which
they are extremely fond. Like the Nightingale their song ceases with the
hatching of the young, and for the rest of the year they are almost
silent except for a harsh scolding note if the nest or young are
approached. Towards the end of summer it leaves us, but for some time
previous to its departure it has been so quiet and skulking that its
actual departure will probably be quite unnoticed.

The adult male has the head black and the rest of the upper parts ash
brown. Chin greyish white; throat, breast, and flanks ash grey; belly
white. Bill horn colour. Legs lead colour. The female has the top of the
head reddish brown and the young at first resemble her. The males,
however, assume their black head in their first autumn, but occasionally
the cap shows a decided tinge of rufous. Length 5·75 in.; wing 2·75 in.

This species is fairly common in England and Wales but rarer and more
local in Scotland and Ireland.



                           THE GARDEN WARBLER
                      Sylvia hortensis, Bechstein


In our minds this bird, for some reason which is not very clear, is
always associated with the Blackcap. They are almost identical in habits
and live in similar situations, but at the same time, although both
species may often be found breeding together, the one is generally
common in localities where the other is scarce and _vice versa_.

It is rather a late arrival, rarely appearing in numbers before the end
of April, and has never been known to winter in these islands.

                [Illustration: BLACKCAP
                _Sylvia atricapilla_
                Female (above). Male (below)]

The nest also resembles that of the Blackcap in structure, and though
the present species never lays the reddish type of egg common to the
Blackcap, its eggs are very similar to the creamy variety of the latter,
but the markings are as a rule more blotchy and the clear-cut small
spots are far fewer.

“Garden” Warbler is to some extent a misnomer, as it is seldom found in
gardens, preferring woods and coppices in the open country, and not
visiting the currant bushes anything like so frequently as the Blackcap.

The sexes are alike and are of a uniform olive brown, rather darker on
the wings and tail. Under parts buffish white. There is a pale streak
over the eye and a greyish area on the lores.

The young are almost indistinguishable from their parents. Length 5·75
in.; wing 3 in.

Except that it is scarcer and more local, its distribution in our
islands is similar to that of the Blackcap.



                           THE BARRED WARBLER
                       Sylvia nisoria, Bechstein


Making its summer home in South Sweden, Denmark, East Germany and
Central Europe, our islands lie too far to the west for this species to
be known except as a rare straggler. About a dozen examples are known to
have occurred in our eastern counties, always in autumn; it has also
been taken in Skye and on two occasions in Ireland.

The general colour above is ash grey faintly barred with slate on the
upper tail coverts. Under parts whitish barred with grey. The young bird
is hardly barred at all and somewhat resembles a large Garden Warbler.
Length 6·5 in.; wing 3·4 in.



                         THE SUB-ALPINE WARBLER
                       Sylvia subalpina, Bonelli


Breeding numerously in Spain and South-East France, this species has
only once occurred here, namely on St. Kilda in June 1894.

The upper parts are dull grey and under parts chestnut. There is a red
ring round the eye and a conspicuous white moustache-like streak
extending backwards from the bill. The female is much duller and the
under parts are pale buff. Length 4·7 in.; wing 2·3 in.



                          THE DARTFORD WARBLER
                        Sylvia undata (Boddært)


                [Illustration: DARTFORD WARBLER
                _Sylvia undata_
                Male (above). Young (below)]

This bird, which is extremely rare and local with us, is the only
resident member of its genus in these islands. Braving as it does our
changeable and stormy climate, it is perhaps not surprising that its
numbers are few, for, feeding almost entirely on insects, it must at
times suffer severely from lack of food. Local, perhaps, is hardly a
strong enough word to express the very stay-at-home habits of this
cheery little fellow; he seems to have gone to the opposite extreme,
and, while his congeners cross large stretches of the earth twice a
year, he remains at home practically on the same bush. In habits he is
very skulking, hiding in thick furze bushes. He will, when disturbed,
take a short flight and then dive down into the thickest part of another
shelter, and all we can notice in the short glimpse we get of him, is
that he is extremely dark. The common on which he lives, may be many
miles in extent, and apparently uniformly covered with furze and rank
grass, and yet he will only be found in a special batch of furze perhaps
not a hundred yards in length; there, summer and winter, we may always
find a small colony, while on the rest of the common we shall hardly
ever see a single individual. In spring he becomes bolder, and we may
watch him as he sits on the topmost spray of a bush, flirting his tail
and throwing his body and wings into many and varied positions while he
rattles forth the hurried medley of notes which serves him for a song.

The nest, which is placed low down in a furze bush and well concealed,
is formed of bents and furze loosely woven together and is lined with
horsehair, wool, or finer grass according to the materials at hand. The
eggs are whitish, very closely speckled with reddish brown, and two
broods are frequently raised in the season. The sexes are alike, and
have the upper parts dark slate grey. Tail long and fan-shaped, the two
outer pairs of feathers having white margins and tips. Under parts
chestnut streaked with white in autumn. Length 5·1 in.; wing 2·2 in.

It is found only in the South of England and sparingly in Norfolk,
Suffolk, and the Midlands.



                        THE GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN
                     Regulus cristatus, K. L. Koch


The Goldcrest is the smallest of all our birds, and though not often
seen it is extremely abundant wherever a fir or cone-fir plantation is
to be found. Here it spends its life hopping about restlessly in search
of the small flies and insects on which it exists. It has hardly any
song, and the call-note is a very feeble high-pitched squeak, which
often may be heard when the bird itself is invisible. The nest is,
perhaps, the neatest and most beautiful structure of any to be seen in
our islands, the Long-tailed Tit’s not excepted; it is deep and
cup-shaped, the outside being as well finished as the interior. The
bough of a non-deciduous tree is almost invariably chosen, and from the
end of the bough the nest is suspended, being firmly secured to the
small lateral twigs. It is composed of moss, leaves, and fir needles
woven with the aid of wool and cobwebs into a compact felted mass, the
interior being lined with wool and a profusion of feathers. Six to ten
eggs form the clutch; they are creamy white, minutely and profusely
dotted with reddish brown.

In autumn this species wanders about in small parties, while large
numbers frequently arrive on our eastern shores from the Continent in
October.

General colour above yellowish olive green. Forehead whitish, bordered
on either side by a blackish streak. Crown of the head and crest bright
lemon yellow, becoming deep reddish orange behind. Wings brown with
white tips to the secondaries and a black bar across the upper part.
Median and greater wing coverts with white margins. Under parts greenish
buff. The female lacks the bright orange in the crest and the young bird
has no crest. Length 3·6 in.; wing 2·1 in.

                [Illustration: FIRE-CRESTED WREN
                _Regulus ignicapillus_
                (above)
                GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN
                _Regulus cristatus_
                (below)]



                             THE FIRECREST
                   Regulus ignicapillus (C. L. Brehm)


This species is a rare wanderer to our southern counties during the
winter months, although doubtless from its extreme similarity to the
Goldcrest it may have been overlooked on several occasions. It nests
throughout Southern and Central Europe, migrating southwards from its
more northerly quarters on the approach of winter.

In appearance it hardly differs from the Goldcrest, but may be
distinguished at all ages by a yellow frontal streak that passes
backwards over the eye, succeeded by a _black line through the eye_,
while another black streak runs backwards from the nape. Length 3·7 in.;
wing 2·1 in.



                       THE YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER
               Phylloscopus superciliosus (J. F. Gmelin)


This is an Asiatic species breeding in North-Eastern Siberia and
wintering in South China, Burma, and North-Eastern India. It has been
obtained on several occasions in these islands.

The upper parts are olive green, under parts pale yellow. There is a
faint yellowish stripe along the crown of the head and a very
conspicuous yellow stripe, which passes over the eye, from the base of
the bill to the nape. There are two bands of lemon yellow across the
coverts, and the _inner_ web of the outer tail feathers is margined with
white. Length 3·8 in.; wing 2·15 in.



                         PALLAS’ WILLOW WARBLER
                    Phylloscopus proregulus (Pallas)


A single example of this Asiatic species has been obtained in Great
Britain, its true home being across Eastern Siberia, where it nests from
Lake Baikal to the Himalayas and Northern China. It closely resembles
the Yellow-browed Warbler, but its colours are brighter. The crown
stripe is well marked. The inner web of the outer tail feathers is _not_
margined with white, but its most distinctive feature is the bright
lemon yellow rump. Length 3·7 in.; wing 2 in.



                      THE GREENISH WILLOW WARBLER
                     Phylloscopus viridanus, Blyth


In summer this species inhabits Western Siberia from the Urals to the
Himalayas and has only occurred once in England. It is very similar to
our Willow Warbler, but the tips of the greater wing coverts are whitish
and form a distinct bar. Length 4·25 in.; wing 2·25 in.



                             THE CHIFFCHAFF
                    Phylloscopus collybita, Vieillot


It has yearly been our delight to listen for the cheery “chiff chaff”
which announces the first arrival of this bird. Winter is hardly over,
the March winds still blow and the trees are bare, but still he comes to
brave our inclement weather and retain his position as the first
harbinger of spring. A small green Warbler of skulking habits, we will
have to watch carefully if we wish to see him, for as we approach he
will leave his post high up on some tree and hide in the undergrowth.
For some weeks he wanders about the country, here to-day and gone
to-morrow—apparently at the dictates of his own will, but in reality
ever creeping up steadily northwards in the trail of departing winter.
At the end of April or beginning of May, having chosen his mate, the
duties of nest-building begin. The nest is loosely placed in some
bramble thicket or undergrowth in a wood, and often appears as though it
had been carelessly thrown there. It is dome or oval shaped, loosely
built of bents, moss, and leaves, and warmly lined with feathers. The
six eggs are white, dotted and spotted with dark reddish brown.

Its food consists almost entirely of small flies, caterpillars, and
other insects, which it captures among the branches and leaves of the
trees, rarely descending to the ground. Two broods are reared in the
season and the rest of the summer is spent quietly and unobtrusively
till, in October, the first storms of winter and growing scarcity of
food compel it to retire southwards. This it does reluctantly, and a
certain number spend the winter in the milder climate of Devon and
Cornwall.

The upper parts are olive green; wing coverts, quills, and tail feathers
brown, edged with the same colour. Under parts whitish. There is a pale
yellowish white streak above the eye. The sexes are alike in plumage and
the young are slightly greener. Length 4·6 in.; wing 2·35 in.

This species may be distinguished from the Willow Wren by its smaller
size and darker legs. The second quill is equal to the seventh and the
outer webs are emarginated near their tips up to and including the
sixth. In the Willow Wren the emargination only reaches the fifth and
the second is equal in length to the sixth. It should be remembered that
the first quill is very short and inconspicuous, so that the first
apparent quill is the second.

This species is scarcer and more local than the Willow Wren. In Scotland
it is local and is only a straggler to the north of that country and the
surrounding islands.



                        THE SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF
                      Phylloscopus tristis, Blyth


One example of this small warbler, that breeds in Western Siberia,
migrating to Turkestan and India in winter, was obtained at a lighthouse
off the Orkneys in 1902. It is rather smaller and browner than our
common Chiffchaff and has the under parts buffish white. It may,
however, always be recognised by the shortness of the second primary,
which comes between the seventh and the eighth, or is even shorter than
the eighth.

                [Illustration: CHIFFCHAFF
                _Phylloscopus collybita_ [Vieillot]
                (above)
                WILLOW WREN
                _Phylloscopus trochilus_
                (below)]



                            THE WILLOW WREN
                    Phylloscopus trochilus (Linnæus)


The Willow Wren is closely allied to the Chiffchaff and so like it in
general appearance as to need a critical examination, when dead, to
enable it to be recognised. In habits also there is little difference to
be noted. Its range is more extensive, for as far north as the birch
woods extend, this hardy little wanderer makes his home, retiring at the
end of summer to Southern Europe and Africa. Throughout our islands it
is extremely common. Arriving about the last week of March, it at once
makes its presence known by its bright little song, which is very short
and somewhat resembles the Chaffinch’s; it is repeated again and again,
and may be heard right through the summer and sometimes again after the
moult in the late autumn, just before their final departure.

The nest is similar in size, shape, and materials to that of the
Chiffchaff, but differs in its position, being generally placed very
near and often right on the ground, always well concealed in the
undergrowth, whereas with the Chiffchaff it is always off the ground,
sometimes only an inch or two, but more often some eighteen inches or
two feet. The eggs are white with pale rufous spots; these markings are
much paler than on those of the Chiffchaff, less clean cut, and more
numerous.

Apart, however, from the breeding birds, an enormous number of Willow
Wrens pass through this country at migration time. England seems to lie
in the main track of these birds when they are making for their summer
quarters in higher latitudes. From early April to the middle or end of
May they simply pour through this country in incredible numbers. The
whole extent of the south coast is involved, and often for several days
at a time they arrive in millions. These birds pass straight on,
relentlessly pursuing their course, and having crossed the Channel one
night, prepare during the following day for a still longer journey
across the North Sea during the coming night. Early in August the return
journey commences, and in still greater numbers they steadily pass
southwards, till by October they are, let us hope, enjoying peace and
plenty under sunny skies.

Extremely like the Chiffchaff, but rather larger, brighter in colour,
and with paler legs. Its distinctive characteristics have been noted
under the preceding species. Length 4·9 in.; wing 2·7 in.



                             THE WOOD WREN
                  Phylloscopus sibilatrix (Bechstein)


Although a member of the same family as the last two species, this bird
is much more local. It is not until the end of April that he reaches our
shores and his clear and melodious little song, which may be syllabled
as “chit, chit, chit, chit, tri-tr-tr-tre,” can be heard. His favourite
haunts are suitable woods where large timber, especially beech, abound.
Here he may be seen as, with the restless activity so characteristic of
his family, he searches among the upper branches of the trees for those
insects which, with berries of all kinds, form his staple food.

At the foot of some beech-tree, on the ground, or more rarely in some
tangled thicket, the nest is built and well concealed by the use of
materials similar to the surroundings among which it is placed. It is
lined with grass and horsehair, but feathers, so freely used by the
Chiffchaff and Willow Wren, are never found. The eggs are white, very
thickly and uniformly mottled with dark red. After the young are hatched
it becomes silent, and leaves us early in September.

The adult has the upper parts of a bright yellowish green, with a
characteristic yellow streak above and behind the eye. The wings are
brown edged with yellowish green. Throat and breast sulphur yellow, rest
of under parts white. Bill and legs brown. Length 5·2 in.; wing 3·1 in.
The larger size and brighter coloration are distinctive of this species.

It is a local bird, but may be found in suitable spots throughout the
United Kingdom. In the north, however, it becomes rarer.



                           THE RUFOUS WARBLER
                      Aedon galactodes (Temminck)


This handsome species is only a summer migrant to the South of Spain,
and the few that have occurred in England are merely stragglers carried
out of their course. It has been taken in Sussex and once in Devon, in
all cases during the autumn.

It is a conspicuous bird, like a large pale-coloured Nightingale, and
may be recognised by its fan-shaped tail with black subterminal spots
and white tips. Length 6·5 in.; wing 3·5 in.



                          RADDE’S BUSH WARBLER
                      Lusciniola schwarzi (Radde)


This species, which breeds in North-Eastern Siberia and migrates in
winter to China and Burma, has only once been obtained in this country,
namely in October 1898, by Mr. Haigh, on the Lincolnshire side of the
Humber. Mr. Haigh’s attention was drawn to it by the loud and powerful
note. The general colour above is olive brown, tinged with tawny on the
rump. Under parts yellowish white. There is a broad white superciliary
stripe, which ends abruptly in a manner characteristic of this species.
Length 5·5 in.; wing 2·45 in.



                            CETTI’S WARBLER
                         Cettia cettii, Marmora


A single example of this species, whose home is in Southern Europe and
the Mediterranean basin generally, was obtained in Sussex in May 1904.

The upper parts are chestnut brown, darker on the wings and tail. There
is a white superciliary stripe. Under parts white, turning to grey on
the breast, flanks, and under tail coverts. Length 5 in.; wing 2·3 in.



                          THE ICTERINE WARBLER
                      Hypolais icterina (Vieillot)


This fairly common European bird is only a rare visitor to our southern
and eastern shores, and has once been taken in Ireland. It breeds in
North-Eastern France, Denmark, Scandinavia, and throughout Northern and
Central Europe, migrating south-eastwards in autumn, Italy forming
apparently the western limit of its route. The eggs are very
distinctive, being pale pink with black spots.

The upper parts are greyish olive, the lores and a streak over the eye
yellow. Under parts lemon yellow. Length 5·2 in.; wing 3·1 in.



                         THE MELODIOUS WARBLER
                     Hypolais polyglotta (Vieillot)


Although the presence of this species had long been suspected, as well
as the possibility of it having bred with us, it was not until 1897 that
the first authenticated example was procured at Burwash in Sussex. It is
a southern species, breeding abundantly in Spain, North Africa, and
South-Western France. Its eggs very closely resemble those of the
Icterine Warbler.

Except for its smaller size, it is very difficult to distinguish this
species from the preceding one, but its proportionately shorter wing,
its larger bastard primary and the second primary being _shorter_ than
the fifth, form unfailing characteristics. Length 4·9 in.; wing 2·5 in.



                              REED WARBLER
                   Acrocephalus streperus (Vieillot)


A near ally to the Sedge Warbler, this bird seldom reaches this country
till the beginning of May, and at once repairs to the reed-beds, where
his whole life, except when actually migrating, is spent. Wherever
suitable reed-beds occur in the southern and eastern parts of our
islands, he is fairly abundant and reveals his presence by his song,
which is a harsh medley of notes volubly rattled out, and somewhat like
that of the Sedge Warbler. It is easy to hear him, but to see him is a
task requiring much patience and careful watching. He keeps entirely
concealed by the reeds among which he lives, creeping along from one to
another and assuming all kinds of strange attitudes. Now he hangs head
downwards, or again, grasping a neighbouring reed with one foot, he will
swing himself round and climb straddle-legged up two reeds, till on
reaching the top he will perhaps take a short flight, only to dive in
again a few feet farther on.

                [Illustration: REED WARBLER
                _Acrocephalus streperus_ [Vieillot]
                (above)
                MARSH WARBLER
                _Acrocephalus palustris_
                (below)]

The nest is a most beautiful structure, carefully supported on four or
five growing reeds which pass right through its walls and thus hold it
secure. For the size of the bird it is extremely deep, a wise provision
to prevent the eggs from being rolled out when the reeds are bent with
the wind. The materials used are dry grass, bents, and moss, with a
lining of finer materials. The eggs, four in number, are pale green,
thickly freckled and mottled with a darker tone of the same colour.

When the young are hatched the inside of their mouths is of a deep red
colour with two very conspicuous black spots towards the hinder end of
the tongue; at this time the song of the parent ceases and we hear and
see but little more of this species. With the autumn gales he leaves us
for the marshes of Spain or the deadly swamps of Africa, where the small
flies and insects on which he feeds may be found in abundance at all
seasons.

The upper parts are of a uniform warm brown, slightly brighter on the
rump, and there is a pale buff stripe over the eye. The under parts are
white, the flanks and under tail coverts buffish. Length 5·25 in.; wing
2·5 in.

It is unknown in Scotland and Ireland.



                           THE MARSH WARBLER
                   Acrocephalus palustris (Bechstein)


This species resembles the preceding one so closely that even when
examined in the hand, they are hard to distinguish. The general hue is,
however, more greenish and less rufous than the Reed Warbler, and the
legs are lighter in colour, being brownish flesh instead of yellowish
brown. Alike as they are in appearance, their life history is very
different. The Marsh Warbler is by no means confined to reeds, but may
be found in osier beds, cornfields or coppices, being content, like the
Sedge Warbler, with a very small extent of water. It sings its song,
which is much sweeter and more melodious than that of the Reed Warbler,
from the topmost sprays of its home, and the nests are never suspended
in reeds but placed low down in some osier or small bush. The eggs are
pale greenish white, blotched and marked with dark green, and are so
characteristic that they cannot well be mistaken for those of any other
species. It has a wide range in Europe, becoming scarcer towards the
west, but in this country it is very local, and restricted as a breeding
species to a few places in the south.

Very difficult to distinguish from the Reed Warbler, but the general hue
is much greener, and the difference in the colour of the legs has
already been noticed. Length 5·25 in.; wing 2·7 in.



                         THE GREAT REED WARBLER
                     Acrocephalus turdoides (Meyer)


Although common on the neighbouring shores of the Continent, this
species has occurred here very seldom. It is abundant throughout Europe
in summer as far north as the southern shores of the Baltic, and nests
commonly in France, Holland, and Belgium. It inhabits reed-beds or thick
cover near the margins of streams, ditches, and ponds. It does not skulk
like the Reed Warbler, but, on the contrary, is always sitting on the
top of the tallest reeds and flying about from one clump to another.

The upper parts are warm olive brown, with light margins to the wing and
tail feathers. There is a dull whitish streak from the bill over each
eye. The under parts are buff; chin and belly whitish. Length 7·8 in.;
wing 3·75 in.

It has been taken only in the South and East of England.



                             SEDGE WARBLER
                  Acrocephalus phragmitis (Bechstein)


The presence of a human being seems to spur this delicate species to
song, for if, when strolling near some river or pond towards the end of
April, we inadvertently pass this little songster, he will at once burst
forth with his noisy chattering notes, as though loudly protesting
against this unseemly invasion into his privacy. He is by no means shy,
though he usually keeps to the low-growing alders, willows, or whatever
other cover there may be, and should we come so close as to disturb him
from his shelter, he merely flies on a few yards and recommences his
song with redoubled energy. Although rather local in distribution, he is
not rare, but is never found except near water, although that water may
be only a horsepond surrounded with hawthorn bushes. About the beginning
of May, having selected his mate and decided on a spot suitable for a
home, family cares will be commenced, and the nest, placed within a foot
or two of the ground and well concealed, will be begun. The nest is
formed of grass and bents, loosely woven together and lined with finer
materials and, occasionally, a few feathers. The eggs, four to six in
number, are uniform pale clay brown, sometimes showing mottlings of a
darker shade and having a dark hair streak towards the larger end. The
young are fed on insects, which form also the chief diet of the parents,
though berries are eaten in the season.

Two broods are often reared, and at the end of summer young and old pass
away to the tropics. The sexes are alike in plumage, but the female is
slightly duller. The upper parts are tawny brown, becoming brighter on
the rump and upper tail coverts; the crown is broadly streaked with
black, and edged on each side with a broad yellowish-white superciliary
stripe. Chin and throat white, breast and under parts buff. Length 5
in.; wing 2·5 in. The young are slightly spotted with brown on the
throat.

Generally distributed throughout Great Britain, becoming rarer in the
north.



                          THE AQUATIC WARBLER
                 Acrocephalus aquaticus (J. F. Gmelin)


The Aquatic Warbler is by no means scarce in Europe, but is one of those
south-eastern species that extend north-westwards through France and
breed sparingly in Holland and Denmark. From recent observations it
seems probable that a few examples regularly pass through this country
on migration every autumn, but owing to its resemblance to the Sedge
Warbler, it has probably often been overlooked.

In general colour it is lighter and paler than the Sedge Warbler, and
the wing coverts have broad buffish margins. Its characteristic feature,
however, is the conspicuous buff stripe down the middle of the crown.
Length 4·9 in.; wing 2·4 in.



                        THE GRASSHOPPER WARBLER
                       Locustella nævia (Boddært)


Though never very abundant, this skulking species is commoner than is
usually supposed. Arriving towards the end of April, its peculiar
trilling song, which has earned it many local names, may often be heard.
It sounds, however, so much like the noise made by a grasshopper that
the bird is frequently unrecognised.

This species is rarely seen, for it loves to remain concealed in the
thick undergrowth, either in a compact hedge or in large stretches of
sedge and rough grass, but, if we trouble to trace it by its song, we
may be lucky enough to see a dark bird moving near the ground with
hesitating flight. As it drops after a very short journey into the cover
again, we may have time to notice the rounded tail, which is always
spread as it settles and is the best clue by which to identify this
species on the wing. Approach the spot where he disappeared and you will
search in vain, for he has already crept away, and in a few minutes the
song will recommence several yards off.

As with all the Warblers, insects form their chief food. The nest, built
of grass and bents loosely woven together, is placed low down and well
concealed in the rough herbage near the ground, and as the bird seldom
flies from it, but creeps silently away on our approach, it is
exceedingly difficult to find.

Six eggs form the clutch; the ground colour is whitish, but they are
very thickly and uniformly mottled and freckled with reddish brown. The
general colour above is greenish brown, each feather having a darker
centre. Wings and tail brown, the latter showing faint bars. Under parts
brownish, slightly spotted on the throat and breast, darker on the
flanks and paler on the belly. The sexes are alike in plumage. Length
5·4 in.; wing 2·4 in.



                             SAVI’S WARBLER
                     Locustella luscinioides (Savi)


This species was once a regular migrant to certain favoured localities
in the East Anglian fens, but subsequent drainage has so affected its
haunts that it is no longer to be found there. The last known British
specimen was killed over fifty years ago. Possibly a few individuals may
sometimes occur on migration, as it still breeds locally in some parts
of Holland, but, except for historical interest, it can no longer be
included among our British birds.

                [Illustration: GRASSHOPPER WARBLER
                _Locustella nævia_
                Adult (above). Young (below)]

The sexes are alike, and in size it slightly exceeds that of the
preceding species. The upper parts are of a uniform reddish brown, under
parts whitish, passing to buff on the breast and flanks. Length 5·7 in.;
wing 2·6 in.



                           THE HEDGE ACCENTOR
                      Accentor modularis (Linnæus)


Of dingy colour, quiet, unobtrusive, yet ever busy, the Hedge Accentor,
vulgarly misnamed the “Hedge Sparrow,” resembles in his character those
among us who are content, even in the bustle of our great cities, to go
quietly on their way, doing good wherever they find opportunity and
receiving uncomplainingly the kicks which their busier brethren are
often only too eager to bestow.

And so it is with the Hedge Sparrow; year in, year out, he is ever with
us, quietly and diligently seeking his food along a hedge bottom, on the
edge of a coppice, on the garden path, or wherever else he may happen to
find himself. He does incalculable good in destroying numbers of noxious
insects, and when winter comes, and such food is scarce, he turns his
attention to seeds of all kinds, thus helping to keep down many weeds
which would otherwise overrun our fields and gardens. Peaceful by
nature, he has become very common, and imagining ill of none he is tame,
hopping up from the path just in front of us, and disappearing quietly
and without sound into the nearest cover, and then, working his way by
quiet “creeping hops” (if such an expression be allowable) to the bottom
of the bush or hedge, he reappears behind us. We in our turn, it is
true, do not often molest him, in fact he is generally ignored and his
presence unsuspected, and even when seen, many of us think—“only a
sparrow!” and judge him and his acts by those of a race as different
from him in habits and qualities as we are from the Chinese!

When he does utter a note, which is towards evening or when suddenly
alarmed, it is a short shrill “iss,” rather like a pencil being drawn
across a slate; his song, which is commenced in March and only carried
on during the breeding season, is like his own character, very sweet and
unobtrusive, being in fact a low warble, wandering through its
inconsecutive measures without any marked phrases or pauses. By early
April he will have chosen his mate and the site for his future home, and
now and again one may see him having a slight tiff with a neighbour, who
may covet his particular nesting-place, but it is nothing serious, for
the said neighbour, if defeated, will have his home but a few yards
farther on and apparently enjoy possession unmolested.

                [Illustration: HEDGE ACCENTOR (HEDGE SPARROW)
                _Accentor modularis_]

The nest is a beautiful structure; the foundation is made of twigs and
leaves, and the nest itself is of moss, strongly felted together and
lined with horsehair; it is perfectly circular in shape and somewhat
deep. Here are laid four eggs of a beautiful blue with no spots or
blotches to mar the purity of the colour: altogether this little home is
in its quiet way one of the most beautiful of our common natural
objects; but—“it is only a sparrow,” and the passer-by either destroys
it or goes on without a thought for our little friend or the beauty of
his home. When his mate begins her tedious business of incubation he
attends to her wants with unremitting care, bringing her any delicacies
in the shape of insects, flies, and caterpillars he can find. The young
at first look like balls of down, and when they open bright
orange-coloured mouths they are quickly filled with what is apparently a
favourite food—luscious green caterpillars. When they leave the nest the
young wear a dull mottled brown plumage, and without more ado take their
place in the world around, and lead a quiet unobtrusive life near the
home where they were bred, till their end comes by some natural means,
or till their career for good is suddenly cut off and they are shot as
being “only sparrows”!

The sexes are nearly alike, the head, nape, chin, throat, and upper
breast are slate grey, rest of the upper parts rufous brown, with darker
streaks; flanks brown streaked with darker, belly white. The female is
slightly duller. The young are brown, spotted with buff all over. Length
5·5 in.; wing 2·75 in.

This is a numerous species throughout our islands.



                          THE ALPINE ACCENTOR
                      Accentor collaris (Scopoli)


The Alpine Accentor is an inhabitant of the mountainous regions of
Central and Southern Europe, and, like our Hedge Accentor, of very
stay-at-home habits, rarely leaving its home until the snow forces it
down into the valleys. In England and Wales it has occurred about a
dozen times.

In general colour above it is not unlike the preceding species, but the
wing coverts are tipped with white, forming a double bar across the
wing. Chin and throat white mottled with black, rest of under parts
greyish brown, the flanks mottled with chestnut. Length 7 in.; wing 4·1
in.



                               THE DIPPER
                      Cinclus aquaticus, Bechstein


Wherever a mountain torrent is to be found in these islands we are
almost sure to find this bird, as he sits on a boulder which juts out
among the rushing water. In shape he resembles the more familiar Wren,
but he is essentially a water bird, and seeks most of his food, which
consists entirely of aquatic insects and their larvæ, in the bed of the
stream.

Diving into the water it reaches the bottom by the aid of both wings and
feet, and when there progresses, apparently, by its feet alone.

The nest, placed in the crevice of a wall, often on the under side of a
bridge or between two boulders in the centre of the stream, is a large
domed structure of moss and leaves, having an elliptical entrance low
down on one side.

Four to six dull white eggs form the clutch, and two or three broods are
reared in the season, the first eggs being laid early in March. Its song
is begun in autumn and continues throughout the winter till well on in
spring.

A strictly resident species, this bird may be found in its haunts at all
times of the year and is exceedingly common in Scotland, where there are
few burns that are not tenanted by two or three pairs. In hard frosty
weather, however, when its natural home is frozen and food scarce, it
wanders over the country and may at such times be found by tidal ditches
on the sea-shore.

Its flight is rapid and direct, and when on the move it almost
invariably follows the course of the stream.

The adult has the head and neck brownish, rest of the upper parts dark
slate grey. Chin, throat and upper breast white, lower breast chestnut,
passing into black on the flanks and belly. Bill blackish, legs brown.
The young lack the chestnut on the lower parts. Length 7 in.; wing 3·6
in.



                          THE BEARDED REEDLING
                      Panurus biarmicus (Linnæus)


Extremely scarce and local in our islands, being confined to not more
than half-a-dozen localities, this charming little bird, more than any
others perhaps of our rarer species, is worth a journey to see.
Inhabiting large and extensive reed-beds, it used formerly to be
abundant in the fens of Huntingdon, Cambridge, and other eastern
counties, but with the reclaiming and draining of the land it has slowly
died out, only holding its own in those few places where Nature still
reigns supreme. Its exact systematic position is doubtful, as it shows
no close affinity with any other known species; one point, however, is
absolutely certain, namely that its popular name of “Tit” is quite a
misnomer, as it has no connection in appearance or habits with those
delightful birds. The naturalist, therefore, who goes to visit him at
home must not search for him on trees or look for his nest in holes. As
the boat glides quietly past some reed-bed his first acquaintance of
this bird will be the clear and unmistakable “ping-ping,” a note
answered almost immediately by another close by. Soon, if he remains
quiet, he will see a small light-brown bird with long tail rise from the
reeds and, progressing with undulating flight, settle again a short
distance on. Although very tame and unsuspicious, the Bearded Reedling
is very hard to watch, owing to the thickness of the reeds in which he
lives, but if we wait about patiently we can see a good deal of him as
he searches the mud at the base of the reeds for minute molluscs, of
which he is extremely fond. These he swallows whole, and having
exhausted the treasures of one spot he will run up two reeds, resting
one foot on each alternately, with surprising rapidity and then fly off
with a merry “ping-ping” to renew his search in some other spot, and
possibly, if the place be more open, we may see him scratch up the soft
ooze with a peculiar backward motion of both feet and then eagerly scan
the spot to see if his labours have met their reward. Early in April he
pairs, and a nest of leaves and rushes, deeply cup-shaped and lined with
the feathery tops of the reeds, is built. Materials are collected by
both sexes, but especially by the cock, while the building itself is
entirely carried on by the hen. A clutch of six eggs is laid; they are
very round in shape and dead white, freckled with minute black markings.
Two broods are reared in the season, the young being fed chiefly on
insects. It is essentially a resident species and spends the whole year
wandering over the reed-beds in family parties, feeding on insects,
molluscs, or seeds, the party keeping together by a continual use of the
call-note. At nightfall they all gather close together on some broken
reed, where they sleep securely till dawn awakens them to another day of
restless work and energy.

                [Illustration: BEARDED REEDLING
                _Panurus biarmicus_]

The general colour above is tawny orange, the secondaries are striped
with rufous buff and black, the tail is long, wedge-shaped, and of the
same colour as the back. Chin and throat whitish, becoming pinker on the
breast and passing into tawny brown on the flanks; under-tail coverts
black. The male has the crown of the head a delicate grey and a black
moustache of elongated feathers running downwards from the lores and
beneath the eye. In the females this moustache is wanting and the crown
of the head is brown, but otherwise they resemble the male. The young
differ from the female in having the crown and back striped with black.
Length 6·75 in.; wing 2·25 in.



                          THE LONG-TAILED TIT
                       Acredula caudata (Linnæus)


There must be few of us who have not noticed this charming little bird
when we are walking in winter along a hedgerow. We are attracted by a
high-pitched “zi-zit” as the bird darts from the hedge in front of us,
and after a few yards of undulating flight settles again. It is not
alone, for another and yet another Tit follows till the whole family
party are busy at work hopping and creeping about the hedge. Shortly the
whole proceeding takes place again, the family procession moving on to
search for food in a new spot. All this goes on daily during the winter
months; up one hedgerow, down another; now hopping up a tree,
occasionally visiting a small wood, ever on the move, and ever restless,
till the evening comes, when the little party gather to rest, sitting
close to each other on some slender bough.

In April, however, this roving life ends. The cock bird seeks a mate and
they proceed to make a summer home, sometimes in an open hedgerow, but
more often in the hedge bordering a wood, or in some isolated bush in
the wood itself. It would be difficult to imagine anything more
beautiful than their nest, which is perhaps the most elaborate of any of
our British Birds! It is a solid thick-walled elliptical mass of felted
moss completely covered externally with lichens, which are largely
interwoven by means of cobwebs. The entrance, for it is entirely covered
in, is towards the upper end, and the interior is lined with horsehair
and innumerable feathers, as many as seven hundred having been counted
in a single nest.

                [Illustration: LONG-TAILED TIT
                _Acredula caudata_]

The full complement of eggs is at least ten, and two broods are often
reared in a season.

This species is entirely insectivorous and less destructive to the buds
of fruit-trees than any other kind of Tit, so that no one can have any
excuse for destroying this beautiful little bird that does so much to
brighten our hedgerows during the dull months of winter.

The sexes are alike. The forehead and crown are white, bordered by a
dark stripe, which runs from the bill over the eye to join the black of
the nape and back. Wings dark brown; scapulars and rump pinkish; tail
feathers black, the three outer pairs broadly tipped and margined with
white. Under parts dull white and tinged with pink on the flanks and
belly. The young are duller. Length 5·5 in.; wing 2·4 in.

Continental specimens are said to be distinguishable from our native
birds.

It is common throughout our islands except in Scotland, where it is
somewhat local.



                             THE GREAT TIT
                          Parus major, Linnæus


On a bright morning in winter, when the leafless branches of the trees
bear white traces of the night frost, whose tonic power is felt by man,
as well as the lower orders of Nature, we shall not walk far before the
rasping “che-chi, che-chi” of the little Saw-sharpener, as he is often
called, breaks on our ears. We soon see him climbing about on the
branches of some wayside tree; never still, now hanging head downwards
as he inspects a bud, seeking for the insect it may contain, or plucking
some berry he holds it between his feet, and with a few sharp hammerings
of his powerful little beak breaks it open, swallows the seed, and then
flits on to the next tree to resume his untiring search for food. Bright
in colour, lively in habits and in song, he is such a cheery little
fellow that we cannot help regretting the antagonism that is bound to
exist between him and the gardener, as the latter watches his promising
buds ripped off by this gay-plumaged marauder. True, he is seeking the
insect contained in the bud, but in that search it is not to be denied
that many an unaffected bud has to suffer. Woods and orchards are his
chief haunts, but gardens are frequently visited, and if nest-boxes with
small holes be hung up on the trees round the house he and his mate may
often be induced to hatch and rear their family under our protection and
observation. In spring his saw-sharpening note becomes elaborated into a
merry little song, and he proceeds in company with his mate to choose a
nesting-site—this is always in a hole in a wall or tree, or even in a
letter-box; the cavity within may be fairly large, but the entrance
thereto is often very small—ridiculously so for the size of the bird.
The nest is a large accumulation of moss, the whole space being filled
up level and a little cup-like hollow being sunk in part of it. About
ten eggs, white with a few reddish-brown blotches, are laid. The hen
bird sits very closely and vigorously pecks at any intruding hand. The
period of incubation is very short, being only from ten to twelve days,
and the young, which are fed almost exclusively on insects, leave their
home in about a fortnight, and wander in small parties through the woods
and lanes for the rest of the year.

                [Illustration: GREAT TIT
                _Parus major_]

The sexes are alike in plumage. The whole of the head, chin, throat, and
a median line running down the breast are of a glossy blue black; cheeks
white; mantle yellowish olive, prolonged forwards to end in a light spot
on the nape; wing coverts and tail bluish grey, quills darker. Under
parts greenish yellow. Length 5·75 in.; wing 2·85 in.

The young are somewhat paler, but otherwise resemble their parents.

A common resident throughout the whole country, except the extreme
north.



                              THE COAL TIT
                          Parus ater, Linnæus


The Coal Tit is often found as a near neighbour of the Blue Tit, but is
never so abundant and familiar. It prefers clumps of trees bordering
open commons and moors, but it may sometimes be seen on the outskirts of
woods.

The nest is always placed near the ground, in either a hole of a post or
tree, and not infrequently, when suitable holes are scarce,
mouse-burrows in the ground itself are chosen. It is chiefly composed of
moss and lined with hair and feathers, and the eggs, eight to ten in
number, are white speckled with brown, much resembling those of other
Tits.

The young are fed entirely on insects, and after leaving the nest wander
about in family parties, gradually scattering over the country, but
seldom becoming so familiar in the haunts of man and vicinity of towns
as the Blue Tit.

The sexes are alike. The head, neck, and upper breast are a glossy blue
black; the cheeks and a nuchal spot white; back grey, browner on the
rump; wing coverts tipped with white to form two bars. Breast whitish,
passing to pale brown on the flanks and belly. Length 4·25 in.; wing 2·4
in.

The young lack the gloss on the head, and the white cheeks and nape are
tinged with yellow.

This species may readily be distinguished from the Marsh Tit by the
white nuchal spot.



                             THE MARSH TIT
                        Parus palustris, Linnæus


This bird is the rarest of our common species of Tits, although in some
places it outnumbers the Coal. In habits it is very similar to its
congeners, but is perhaps more partial to young alder and willow
plantations than some of the others. Its name would lead us to suspect
that it especially frequents marshy spots, but this is not the case. It
chooses for its nesting-site a hole in some decayed stump which it not
infrequently hews out for itself, and the nest consists of the usual
materials, but sometimes willow-down is used in addition for a lining, a
material never found in the nests of other Tits.

                [Illustration: MARSH TIT
                _Parus palustris_]

The note is a three-syllabled chirp bearing a family resemblance to that
of the other species. The food consists of insects and seeds of various
kinds which it seeks with the unceasing energy characteristic of this
genus.

The sexes are alike and of an olive brown colour on the back; head and
nape glossy black; cheeks white; chin black; under parts whitish,
becoming buff on the flanks. Length 4·5 in.; wing 2·45 in.

The young are duller and have no gloss on the head and nape.

This species is local, but well distributed in England and Wales; in
Scotland it is rare and only recorded from two or three counties.

Recently it has been suggested that there is in our islands another
species of Tit (_P. salicaria_) called the Willow Tit. Except that in
habits it is apparently more local and restricted to marshy places,
there seems to be little to distinguish it, and in plumage it is
practically identical with the young Marsh Tit, the absence of gloss on
the head being the most characteristic feature.



                              THE BLUE TIT
                        Parus cœruleus, Linnæus


This bird is very similar in its actions to the Great Tit, but is more
often seen in gardens than the latter. It is ever on the move and is
extremely fond of a bit of suet—a piece hung on a string in the garden
affords throughout the winter months endless opportunities of watching
its pretty and fascinating ways. In summer, sunflower seeds are a great
attraction; these are removed as soon as they ripen, and taken to some
convenient post or branch; there he will hold one between his feet and
split it with a few well-directed blows of his bill, and having
swallowed the tender kernel he will return again and again to the same
sunflower until not a seed is left.

Any dark cavity will suit it for a nesting-site, either a hole in some
tree or post, an old tin carelessly thrown in a hedge, or some
artificial nest-box in the garden, but it will rarely be nearer the
ground than about six feet. It has a very short but bright song, which
may often be heard in spring, and its call-note is a single “tzee.”

It is a very common resident, wandering in small parties all over the
country during the winter months and even penetrating the heart of our
large cities, where it becomes very tame and confiding.

The sexes are alike in plumage. The back is yellowish green; tail and
wings blue; wing coverts tipped with white; the crown is cobalt blue
encircled by a white line running backwards across the forehead. The
chin is blue, and a blue line runs through each eye to the nape, and,
encircling the white cheeks, runs forward again to meet the blue chin.
Under parts sulphur yellow with a black streak down the centre of the
chest. Length 4·3 in.; wing 2·4 in.

The young are very similar but rather duller in colour.

                [Illustration: NUTHATCH
                _Sitta cæsia_]

It is common and generally distributed throughout our islands, becoming
rather scarce and more local in the northwest of Scotland.



                            THE CRESTED TIT
                        Parus cristatus, Linnæus


A few favoured spots in Scotland are the only resorts of this bird in
our islands.

It is a forest species, haunting pine woods, from which it seldom
wanders far. Like the Marsh Tit, it frequently excavates its own
nesting-hole, which is generally at no great distance from the ground.
In all its actions and habits it resembles its congeners.

The sexes are alike. The general colour above is olive brown, beneath
white, turning to buff on the flanks. The feathers of the head are
black, broadly edged with white and prolonged into a conspicuous crest.
A black streak runs backwards from the eye on each side to join its
fellow on the nape, whence it turns forward and encircling the cheeks,
which are white mottled with black, joins up with the black chin. Length
4·5 in.; wing 2·5 in.

The young are duller and have hardly any crest.



                              THE NUTHATCH
                           Sitta cæsia, Wolf


The Nuthatch is fairly well distributed over the woodland portions of
our southern and midland counties, becoming rarer towards the north. In
Scotland it has only been observed in a few counties, and has never been
met with in Ireland.

It is a very shy bird, but is most interesting to observe, as he runs up
and down with extreme facility, assuming, as he does so, many graceful
and curious positions. Unlike the Woodpeckers, which only run up the
trees, it seems quite immaterial to this species whether he be going up,
down, or sideways, forwards or backwards, for in all positions he seems
equally at home. He will be more often heard than seen as the sharp,
shrill note will betray his whereabouts, though by keeping on the far
side of the tree he avoids being seen. Insects are largely eaten in
summer, but seeds, berries, nuts, and beechmast form his chief food.
Nuts and hard seeds are taken to some convenient crevice in the bark and
hammered with the sharp, hard bill until an entrance having been
effected, the kernel can be pulled out and eaten. Some hole in a tree or
wall, or more rarely in a bank, is chosen as the nesting-site; the
entrance is generally plastered up with mud till only a small circular
hole, just large enough to admit the bird, is left. The inside of the
cavity is lined with a few leaves and scraps of bark on which five to
seven eggs, boldly marked with reddish brown, are laid. These eggs bear
a close resemblance to those of the Great Tit, but are, as a general
rule, rather larger. In the courting season the male has a pretty little
song, and “shows off” to the female as he chases her up and down the
trees. It is a strictly resident species and may be found in the same
spot throughout the year.

The general colour of the upper parts is bluish grey, but all the tail
feathers, except the central pair, are blackish, barred and tipped with
white and grey. A black stripe runs through the eye from the base of the
bill. The under parts are pale rufous shading to chestnut on the flanks
and under-tail coverts. Length 5·7 in.; wing 3·4 in.

The female and young are rather duller in colour.

                [Illustration: COMMON WREN
                _Troglodytes parvulus_
                Lower figure St. Kilda variety]



                                THE WREN
                    Troglodytes parvulus, K. L. Koch


There must be few people who have not heard a long and clear song
sounding almost at their side, when walking along some garden path or
along the edge of a wood, and on investigation have found that this
song, so disproportionate in volume to the size of the bird that utters
it, proceeds from one of the smallest of our birds, the Wren. Skulking
as a rule in the thick hedge bottom, among undergrowth in woods, or in a
tangle of brambles on a common, he will suddenly hop on to an
outstanding spray, rattle off his little song, and then with quick
whirring beats of his wings dive into the undergrowth again a few yards
off. Always bright and perky as he hops along, with his short tail held
up at right angles to the body, he searches for any small seeds or
insects which he can find, and as he appears so cheerful, even in the
most severe weather, it is not surprising that he has won a way to our
hearts, and next to the Robin is the most favoured bird in England. The
nest is a beautiful domed structure, very cleverly concealed among the
ivy on a wall or tree, or sometimes in a grassy bank or the side of a
stack. It is composed of leaves, moss, bents, etc., so arranged and
chosen as to harmonise well with its surroundings. The entrance is a
narrow round hole, and the interior is warmly lined with hair and
feathers.

Nest-building seems to be an occupation in which these birds delight,
and several nests are generally built by each pair; one only, however,
is lined, the others being left quite rough inside. These so-called
“cocks’ nests” are used, however, as roosting-places, and if the eggs be
destroyed they may be lined and used as their home for a second clutch.
The eggs, six to eight in number, are white, sparsely spotted with red.
In this country the wren is a resident and seldom wanders far from its
home, a habit which has resulted in the birds inhabiting some of our
outer islands, like St. Kilda, becoming recognisable as distinct from
the mainland form. In winter, however, our native stock receives
considerable additions from the Continent, but a return migration in
spring has not been noticed.

The whole bird is of a uniform reddish brown, rather lighter on the chin
and throat, minutely barred with black. There is a dull white streak
over each eye. Length 3·5 in.; wing 1·9 in.

The female is rather smaller and duller, and the young are less
distinctly barred.

                [Illustration: TREE-CREEPER
                _Certhia familiaris_]



                            THE TREE-CREEPER
                      Certhia familiaris, Linnæus


The Tree-Creeper is a common species, but from its quiet ways and dull
colour seldom noticed. It is with us the whole year, spending its time
in an unceasing search for small insects on the bark of trees. In its
habits and food it is not unlike the Woodpeckers, climbing up with a
series of jerks, and, when observed, shifting at once to the far side of
the tree.

It has a short but pleasing little song, which is not often heard, and
the call-note is a low and plaintive “cheep.” It is solitary in habits,
and more than one are seldom seen together, except in the breeding
season. The nest is placed behind a piece of loose bark and is merely an
accumulation of roots, grass, and moss, with a lining of wool and
feathers. The eggs are white, minutely spotted with reddish.

The sexes are alike and have the feathers of the upper parts dark brown
with pale centres, becoming lighter on the rump; under parts, silvery
white. Flight feathers dark brown, barred with buffish white. Tail
feathers stiff and pointed and dull reddish brown in colour. Length 4·75
in.; wing 2·5 in.

It is common and abundant throughout our islands.



                            THE WALL-CREEPER
                      Tichodroma muraria (Linnæus)


Very few examples of this species, whose home is in the mountainous
regions of Europe, have occurred in these islands. It spends its life
climbing over the bare and precipitous surfaces of rock, searching for
spiders and other insects on which it feeds.

The general colour is slate grey with crimson wing coverts and a black
throat. The tail feathers are not stiff as in the preceding species.
Length 6 in.; wing 3·9 in.



                            THE PIED WAGTAIL
                      Motacilla lugubris, Temminck


“Chizzit, chizzit,” and looking round we see our little grey friend as
he passes with his peculiar and characteristic dipping flight across the
field towards the ivy-clad wall. Every year he comes with unfailing
regularity to rear his brood near the same spot. It is an old red-brick
wall, thickly covered with ivy, which has concealed the various nooks
and crannies brought about by the winter’s frosts and the heat of the
summer sun. In such a place the Pied Wagtail delights to build his nest.
Although not strictly speaking a migrant, for some individuals spend the
whole year with us, he nevertheless appears with unfailing regularity
towards the end of April at his accustomed haunt, and probably brings
his mate with him, for we seldom see more than a pair together at their
breeding quarters, and thus quietly, and without any demonstration, the
nest-building is begun. This is usually done in the very early hours of
the morning, and the day is spent in some neighbouring field among the
cattle, with occasional excursions to the side of the stream for the
frequent bath which has earned for this species the name of “Polly
Dishwasher.”

                [Illustration: PIED WAGTAIL
                _Motacilla lugubris_]

When the nest, which is composed of grass and bents lined with
horsehair, is completed, the six grey and speckled eggs are laid and
incubation, which is solely carried on by the hen, begins.

If we did not know the habits of our friend, the first signs of his
presence in the garden would be when he flies up to feed his mate with
some special titbit, and then as he jumps out from the ivy we see him
winging his way with elegant flight across the meadow to his favourite
feeding-ground. In due course the young are hatched, and as the needs of
the growing family become greater, we can often see the parents coming
and going with unceasing energy till night brings compulsory rest to
their labours. When the young leave the nest they are almost immediately
taken into the grass fields, where the flies, attracted by the feeding
cattle, offer them an easy livelihood.

September comes, and in company with the Meadow Pipits, they wander over
the country and along the salt marshes near the sea previous to seeking
other countries, or settling in the warmer parts of England near some
sheltered farm where they may find food until the returning spring
reminds them of their old haunts, or impels the younger generation to
seek a mate and home.

In winter the sexes are alike, and grey in general colour with dark
wings and tail (except the two outer feathers, which are white), while
the inner secondaries are also broadly edged with white; under parts
white.

In summer the chin and back are black, the forehead and a stripe across
the face being white. Length 7·3 in.; wing 3·5 in.

The young bird resembles the adult in winter, but the white portions,
especially on the throat and breast, are tinged with yellowish and the
breast is slightly spotted.

This bird is generally distributed throughout the British Isles, rarer
in the north and resident in the warmer portions of the south and west.



                             WHITE WAGTAIL
                        Motacilla alba, Linnæus


This is the Continental form of the preceding species, which passes
through the country every year on migration and occasionally stays to
breed. In habits it is precisely similar to its congener the Pied
Wagtail. It may be distinguished by its rather lighter colour, and in
summer it retains the light grey back but assumes the black chin.

The females, however, of our own species frequently do not assume a
black back, so that the colour of the back when seen in the field will
not be sufficient to identify this species. When it can be closely
compared it may always be recognised by the clearer grey of the back and
pure grey upper tail coverts. In the Pied Wagtail the mantle has a
greenish tinge, and the proximal tail coverts are nearly black. Length
7·5 in.; wing 3·5 in.

                [Illustration: GREY WAGTAIL
                _Motacilla melanope_]



                              GREY WAGTAIL
                       Motacilla melanope, Pallas


The Grey Wagtail is a close inhabitant of rocky streams, and we have to
go to the more mountainous parts of our islands to find this species “at
home.”

Like the Pied Wagtail it is a partial migrant, seeking the warmer
portions in the south and west during the winter and moving back to the
same rushing streams with the return of spring.

The nest is placed in one of the loose stone walls so common near its
haunts, or on the ground in some cleft of the rocks. The eggs resemble
those of the Yellow Wagtail, but are slightly larger.

It is a very handsome bird, the handsomest perhaps of all our Wagtails.
The back and upper parts are of a deep bluish grey: wings and tail
(except the two outer feathers, which are white, a characteristic of all
wagtails), dark brown; under parts clear lemon yellow, paler on the
vent. Length 7 in.; wing 3·3 in.

Female and young resemble the male, but are paler. In summer the male
has a jet black gorget.

This species has a much longer tail than our other species, the Yellow
Wagtail having the shortest tail.

Generally distributed throughout our islands but only found during
summer near rushing torrents, wandering at other times throughout the
country, but always in the vicinity of running water.

The note is very similar to that of the Pied Wagtail.



                        THE BLUE-HEADED WAGTAIL
                        Motacilla flava, Linnæus


This species resembles the Yellow Wagtail very closely in all respects,
and is the common Continental “Yellow Wagtail,” many different races of
which are found. It occurs yearly in the south-east of England on
migration and sometimes stays to breed.

The adults may be distinguished from our Yellow Wagtail by having the
upper part of the head and neck, including the cheeks, bluish grey and
the stripe over the eye _white_. Young birds are practically
indistinguishable from those of our common species, but the eye stripe
is constantly whiter. Length 6·3 in.; wing 3·2 in.

A closely allied race is _M. beema_, which breeds in Western Siberia and
occurs on migration in India. It is very closely allied to _M. flava_,
but is paler on the head and has the _cheeks_ and chin _white_. This
form has been taken in England on one occasion, viz. in Sussex, in April
1898. Faded and worn specimens of _M. flava_ appear at first sight to
belong to this form, so that excessive caution is necessary before
finally identifying British specimens as belonging to this race.

The Scandinavian form, known as _M. borealis_, with a dark grey crown
and _no_ eye stripe, has been obtained on several occasions, and even
remained to breed in Sussex in 1906.

                [Illustration: BLUE-HEADED WAGTAIL
                _Motacilla flava_ (left)
                Young (centre); var. _melanocejala_ (right)]

_M. cinereocephala_, which has not yet been obtained in England, but
breeds in South Europe from Italy eastwards, may be recognised from _M.
borealis_ by its rather darker head and cheeks and by having the _entire
throat_ white.

Lastly, we have the Black-headed Wagtail, _M. melanocephala_, which
inhabits South-eastern Europe and has a black head with hardly any trace
of an eye stripe, and which was also obtained on the south coast in
1906. In this form the cheeks and under parts, including the chin, are
bright yellow.



                           THE YELLOW WAGTAIL
                       Motacilla raii (Bonaparte)


In the flat meadow-lands and pastures intersected by ditches or
bordering some sluggish river, we may see this brilliant little fellow
as he struts about under the feet of the cattle. At one moment he is
running forward to pick some insect off the grass with an audible snap
of his slender bill, and the next jumping up to seize, after the manner
of the Flycatcher, some winged insect that has come within range of his
sharp eyes.

This bird is a true migrant, reaching our shores during the latter half
of April and leaving us again in September. The males arrive, as is the
case with so many species, a few days before the hens, and on their
arrival nest-building is begun without further delay. The site chosen is
on the ground in the middle of an open field and generally near some
upturned sod or in the deep footprints of the cattle. A few grass stems
loosely laid together and lined with horsehair suffices for a nest, and
the eggs, five to six in number, are of a pale clay-brown with no spots
or markings. The birds are very shy when at the nest, leaving it long
before the intruder has approached, and only running on again when he is
well away. The young are fed exclusively on insects, and when they are
fledged remain in their summer home till shorter days and colder nights
warn them that autumn has come. Old and young then collect in enormous
numbers in the salt marshes along the sea-shore, until with favourable
weather they pass on to warmer and more congenial climes.

The male above is of a uniform bright greenish yellow, with a yellow eye
stripe; under parts bright lemon yellow. Females and young are similar
but duller, the latter sometimes showing in autumn some dark spots on
the breast. Length 6·25 in.; wing 3·15 in.

This bird is distributed in suitable localities throughout England, with
the exception of the extreme south-west. In Wales it is chiefly seen on
migration, and in Ireland it is only found nesting in a few places. In
Scotland it does not nest north of Perthshire, and to the north of the
Great Glen it is only a rare straggler. Abroad it is confined to
North-west France and the Iberian peninsula, wandering in winter to West
Africa.



                             THE TREE PIPIT
                       Anthus trivialis (Linnæus)


                [Illustration: TREE PIPIT
                _Anthus trivialis_
                (left)
                MEADOW PIPIT
                _Anthus pratensis_
                (right)]

Arriving in April with our other summer visitors, the Tree Pipit may be
found fairly commonly throughout England and Scotland, but becomes
scarcer in the north. It has not yet been known to visit Ireland. It may
be heard singing its pretty little song near the outskirts of woods, or
in fields bordered by trees. This is usually uttered on the wing when,
having sprung some distance into the air, it descends with fluttering
wings and open tail to the same perch on the top of the tree from which
it started. Most of its food is sought on the ground, and consists
almost entirely of insects. The nest is placed in the middle of a field,
or more preferably in some bank or railway cutting, and is composed of
roots and bents with a little moss and lined with finer bents and hair.
The eggs are generally six in number and vary considerably, the
commonest variety being greenish white with bold blurred markings of
dark brown at their larger end, another variety resembles this in
markings but is suffused with reddish, while a third variety is
uniformly and closely mottled with reddish brown.

In appearance, though not in habits, this bird somewhat resembles a
lark. The upper parts are sandy brown with dark brown streaks, the wing
coverts darker with conspicuous pale edging to the median ones. Chin
white, breast and flanks buff with darker markings, rest of under parts
white. Tail feathers dark brown except the two outer pairs, which show a
considerable amount of white. Hind claw short and curved. The sexes are
alike, but the female is slightly smaller. The young are rather more
spotted. Length 6 in.; wing 3·3 in.

Common in England and south of Scotland, rather scarcer in Wales and
rare in North Scotland. Does not visit Ireland.



                            THE MEADOW PIPIT
                       Anthus pratensis (Linnæus)


Bleak and dreary moorlands, or wide wind-swept marshes and water meadows
form the haunts of this bird at all seasons of the year. Hatched in a
neat nest, placed on the ground and carefully concealed under a tussock
of grass, the young Meadow Pipit is assiduously fed by both its parents
on insects, and his cradle would be most difficult to discover were it
not that the parents, in their anxiety, hover round the spot calling out
“peet, peet” in a plaintive and pained manner. The nest is made of grass
and bents lined with finer grass and hair, and the clutch usually
consists of six eggs, which are of a uniform brownish grey colour,
frequently mottled or clouded with a darker shade and having sometimes a
narrow black hair streak at their larger end. Several broods are reared
during the season. After quitting the nest, they remain about their
home, feeding on insects or small seeds and joining in flocks with the
Wagtails and others of their own kind. Towards September they become
restless and slowly move southwards, the majority quitting our shores
for warmer climates; their place is, however, soon taken by wanderers
from farther north that stay with us, braving our winter gales. They are
graceful little birds, running about the fields rather like a Wagtail,
picking up an insect from a blade of grass, or jumping up in the air and
catching a fly as it hurries along in the genial warmth of a summer’s
day. But on a winter’s day, when the south-wester blows up the clouds
and sweeps the rain across the desolate meadows, they seem equally happy
and at home, and rising at one’s feet from the shelter of a tussock fly
off to another shelter, their “peet, peet” adding a harmonious touch of
life to the discordant elements. In spring our summer visitors return,
and then we may watch him as, full of energy, he rises some distance
into the air and gradually descends with fluttering wings and outspread
tail, singing his somewhat feeble song.

The adult is olive brown above, each feather having a darker centre,
except on the rump and upper tail coverts; wing coverts margined with
white; there is a narrow white eye stripe. Under parts buffish white
streaked with brown on the throat, breast, and flanks. In autumn both
old and young are much more buff coloured. The sexes are alike Length
5·75 in.; wing 3·1 in.



                         THE RED-THROATED PIPIT
                        Anthus cervinus (Pallas)


Less than half-a-dozen individuals of this species, which breed in the
far north of Europe and Asia, and winter in tropical Africa, have
visited us, and with one exception they have all been taken on the
shores of Kent or Sussex.

It closely resembles the Meadow Pipit, but in the breeding season the
sides of the neck and breast in both sexes are vinous chestnut. All our
examples, however, have been immature birds, which are extremely
difficult to distinguish from our common species.

The feathers of the rump form, however, the most distinctive character
in this species; they have dark centres like those of the mantle, but in
the Meadow Pipit, as we pointed out above, these feathers are of a
uniform olive brown. Length 5·8 in.; wing 3·5 in.



                            THE TAWNY PIPIT
                      Anthus campestris (Linnæus)


The Tawny Pipit is a regular summer visitor to the sand-dunes and arid
wastes of Europe, breeding in some numbers no farther from our shores
than the north of France and Holland. It winters in Africa. To England
it has only been a scarce straggler, single examples having been
obtained in autumn on our southern and eastern shores from the Scilly
Islands as far north as Yorkshire. During the last year or two there is
evidence that it may have bred in Sussex, adult pairs of birds having
remained about the same spot during part of the summer till they were
shot.

The general colour is pale sandy brown with dull darker centres to the
feathers. Two outer pairs of tail feathers white with brown margins to
their inner webs, rest of the tail brown. Under parts warm buff,
slightly striated with brown on the breast and paler on the belly.
Length 6·5 in.; wing 3·6 in.



                            RICHARD’S PIPIT
                       Anthus richardi, Vieillot


This eastern species breeds in Turkestan, Siberia, and Mongolia, but a
large number yearly visit Europe during the autumn migration. In England
a good many examples have been obtained, and closer observation may
prove it to be a regular autumn migrant along our eastern and southern
seaboard, as it is abundant on Heligoland every year. It has occurred
once in Scotland and once in Ireland.

It is a large bird and may be distinguished by its long hind claw; when
seen on the wing it appears very dark. The feathers of the upper parts
are sandy brown with dark centres, but the rump is of a nearly uniform
brown. Wing coverts tipped with reddish buff. Outer pair of tail
feathers white with dusky margins to the inner webs, in the next pair
the dusky margin is much broader, remainder of the tail feathers very
dark brown. Chin white, margined with brown spots; breast buffish and
thickly spotted; belly white. Length 7·25 in.; wing 3·75 in.



                            THE WATER PIPIT
                      Anthus spipoletta (Linnæus)


The Water Pipit breeds in the Alps, Pyrenees, and other mountain ranges
of Central Europe, migrating in winter to the shores of the
Mediterranean. A few odd stragglers have been taken in this country both
in the spring and autumn migrations.

The upper parts are of a uniform greyish brown; under parts buff, paler
on the belly and browner on the flanks. There is a short light stripe
immediately above the eye. The tail feathers are brown, except the outer
vane of the exterior pair and the tips of the second pair, which are
white. This forms at all seasons and ages a mark by which this species
may be distinguished from the Rock Pipit.



                             THE ROCK PIPIT
                        Anthus obscurus (Latham)


This species, which very closely resembles the Meadow Pipit but is
slightly larger, is found along the rocky coasts of our islands.

It is strictly an inhabitant of the sea-shore and never wanders inland,
but finds its food, which consists of flies, small mollusca, and marine
insects, on the beach and rocks or among the rough tangle of sea-weed
left dry by the retreating tide. The nest is placed on the ground, in
some crevice of the rocks, or in a grassy bank, and the eggs, large for
the size of the bird, are pale greenish grey, uniformly and densely
mottled with olive brown. This species is largely migratory, and after
the breeding season wanders round the whole of our coasts, inhabiting in
winter the salt marshes and estuaries of our eastern and southern
counties, as well as the more rocky portions of our shores.

Its song and call-note are almost indistinguishable from that of the
Meadow Pipit, and if the nest be approached it flies restlessly from
rock to rock, calling out all the time, but does not hover round in the
air like the commoner species.

Birds from Scandinavia, Denmark, and the Baltic are distinguishable from
our form, which is also found on the adjacent coast of France, in being
of a vinous tint on the breast during the breeding season. The
Scandinavian form may be found sparingly on our shores during migration.

The sexes are alike in plumage. The general colour above is olive brown
with dark centres to the feathers; the under parts are greenish buff
streaked with brown on the breast and flanks. The tail is brown, except
the outer webs of the tail feathers, which are smoky grey, and this
forms an easy characteristic by which this species may be distinguished
from the Water Pipit, which it otherwise closely resembles. Length 6·25
in.; wing 3·5 in.



                           THE GOLDEN ORIOLE
                        Oriolus galbula, Linnæus


There is little doubt that this beautiful species, if unmolested, would
become a regular summer visitor to this country. Every year during the
spring migration several of these birds are seen and shot, chiefly in
our southern and south-western counties, and there is no doubt that it
has on several occasions successfully reared its young in this country.
Its brilliant colouring unfortunately attracts the eye and the gun of
those whose sole thought on seeing a rare bird is to kill it, and the
large mass of nature lovers are thus deprived of the pleasure of a
glimpse of this brilliant bird.

It breeds commonly over most of Europe, throughout France, Germany, and
Russia, but is scarce along the countries bordering the North Sea.

The nest is suspended from the fork of a branch of some tree, usually in
woods, and is a carefully woven structure of strips of bark and grass
stems. The eggs are white with a few large black spots.

The male is golden yellow all over, except for the quills, wing coverts,
and lores, which are black. The central pair of tail feathers are black,
all the rest being black with yellow tips. Bill red. Legs lead grey. The
female is greenish yellow and has the under parts striated with greyish.
The young is still duller in colour than the female. Length 9·5 in.;
wing 6 in.



                         THE GREAT GREY SHRIKE
                       Lanius excubitor, Linnæus


Every autumn towards the end of October a certain number of these birds
regularly visit us, occurring more commonly on our eastern coasts, but
having nevertheless been taken in most of our counties. In habits it
resembles its small congener the Red-backed Shrike, and may be seen
sitting on some point of vantage from which it may dash off to attack
its unsuspecting victims.

This species, or various races of it, breed throughout Northern and
Central Europe and Asia. It migrates on the approach of winter from the
more northerly quarters, but its wanderings rarely extend to the shores
of the Mediterranean.

The male is pearl grey in general colour, lighter on the scapulars;
forehead and a line over each eye white; lores and ear coverts black.
Wings black, with white tips and bases to the secondaries and inner
primaries. Tail feathers black with white tips, except the outermost,
which are pure white. Under parts white. Bill and legs black. Length 9·5
in.; wing 4·3 in. Female duller with faint greyish bars on the under
parts.



                         THE LESSER GREY SHRIKE
                       Lanius minor, J. F. Gmelin


The main home of this species, of which only a few examples on migration
have been taken in this country, is South and Central Europe as far west
as the valley of the Rhone.

In habits it does not differ from its congeners, and is excessively
savage and pugnacious, especially during the nesting season.

It roughly resembles the preceding species in plumage, but may be
distinguished by its smaller size, black forehead, and the white bases
to the tail feathers and primaries, which latter form a broad bar. An
unfailing characteristic, however, of this species, distinguishing it
from all other Shrikes, is the wing formula; the first or bastard
primary being very short, while the second nearly equals the third and
longest primary. Length 8·5 in.; wing 4·6 in.



                         THE RED-BACKED SHRIKE
                        Lanius collurio, Linnæus


Arriving during the early part of May, this species is fairly common in
our southern and south-eastern counties and in Wales during the summer
months. In the northern counties its appearances are irregular, and on
one occasion only has it been seen in Ireland.

One can somehow feel but little affection for this fine but cruel bird;
it is not his fault to be in that stage of evolution in which as an
insect-feeder he aims at higher prey than that with which he is
successfully able to deal. Bold and pugnacious, he sits on the top of
some thick hawthorn hedge, dashing down from his point of observation on
some mouse, bird, or lizard nearly as large as himself.

After a tussle the hapless victim is carried off and impaled on a thorn
near its captor’s nest, to be eaten at a future time; it is these
larders of impaled victims that have earned for him the name of Butcher
Bird. Beetles, bees, and insects of all kinds are also included in his
menu, and young half-fledged birds are considered a great delicacy.

                [Illustration: RED-BACKED SHRIKE
                _Lanius collurio_
                Adult male, female, and young]

The nest is a large and loose structure of twigs, roots, and moss; it is
lined with hair and wool, and placed about eight or ten feet from the
ground in a thick hawthorn hedge. The eggs are usually of a pale green
colour, with a zone or band of olive brown mottlings round the larger
end. In some districts a variety is found in which the ground colour is
pinkish and the markings reddish brown. The Shrike has no song, but
makes a great variety of harsh noises and chucklings as it sits on its
post of vantage, bending down and flirting his tail at the same time.
The call-note is a harsh “chack.” Like the Swift, Cuckoo, and several
other species, he does not stay with us long, but having reared his
brood, the whole family wander south, and soon leave our shores.

The adult male has the crown, nape, and upper tail coverts grey; frontal
band, lores, and ear coverts black; back chestnut; tail feathers black,
all except the central pair with white bases; under parts rose buff.

The female has the upper parts brown, mantle rufous, with small narrow
black crescentic bars on the feathers; under parts greyish white barred
like the mantle. The young bird resembles the female, but is more
barred. Length 7 in.; wing 3·7 in.



                              THE WOODCHAT
                       Lanius pomeranus, Sparrman


Single examples of this species have from time to time visited the
southern and eastern counties of England during migration, and possibly
they may have nested on one or two occasions. It is a common and
abundant breeding species in Southern and Central Europe, from whence it
migrates in winter to tropical Africa.

The forehead, lores, ear coverts, and sides of the neck and back are
black; crown of the head chestnut; scapulars white; wings blackish,
primaries with white bases, secondaries and coverts tipped with white;
and upper tail coverts grey turning to whitish; tail feathers black
tipped with white; under parts whitish. The female is duller and tinged
with rufous on the upper parts. Length 7·1 in.; wing 3·8 in.



                           THE MASKED SHRIKE
                         Lanius nubicus, Licht.


This is a south-eastern species, one example of which was shot in Kent
in July 1905.

It is a rather smaller bird than any of our other Shrikes. The upper
parts are chiefly black; scapulars, speculum, and a band across the
forehead white. Chin, throat, and under tail coverts white; flanks and
breast ferruginous. Length 6·8 in.; wing 3·5 in.



                              THE WAXWING
                       Ampelis garrulus, Linnæus


                [Illustration: WAXWING
                _Ampelis garrulus_
                Adult (left). Young (right)]

Breeding as far north as the limit of tree growth will allow, the
Waxwing is only known in these islands as an irregular winter visitor.
It migrates yearly to South-east France, Italy, and Turkey, and only
under stress of weather do its migrations extend westwards, so as to
include our islands. Its food consists chiefly of berries, though
insects also form no insignificant part of its diet. When in these
islands it will usually be found in plantations. It is a short thick-set
bird, having a steady and rapid flight when on the wing. The general
colour is greyish brown, and it has a flat and backwardly-directed crest
that can be erected at will. The accompanying plate gives so good an
idea of this bird, which has no affinities with any other species, that
further description is unnecessary. The sexes are alike, but in the
males the vermilion waxtips of the quill and tail feathers, to which it
owes its popular name, are larger and more numerous.

In fully adult birds the yellow line of the outer vein of the primaries
is continued on the inner vein, forming an arrow-shaped marking. Length
7·5 in.; wing 4·5 in.



                         THE SPOTTED FLYCATCHER
                       Muscicapa grisola, Linnæus


Dull in colour and lacking in vocal ability, this bird makes up for
these deficiencies by his tameness and fascinating ways. It does not
reach this country till early in May, while in backward seasons it is
the end of that month before the main bulk of them have arrived at their
summer quarters. It is common throughout these islands, nesting in
gardens and woods, and feeds entirely on small insects, which are
invariably captured on the wing. The nest, which is placed against a
tree, in ivy near a wall, or frequently on the beam in a verandah or
outhouse, is composed entirely of moss loosely felted together with
cobwebs and lichens, and is lined with horsehair and a few feathers. The
eggs are bluish, mottled and spotted with rusty red spots. From its
quiet ways and unobtrusive plumage they often escape observation, even
in the vicinity of the nest, on which the female sits very closely. The
cock, however, may often be seen on his favourite perch, generally a
dead bough, or some wire railings, from which he darts down constantly
to seize some unfortunate insect that has attracted his attention, after
which he immediately returns to his perch to wait for more. When the
young are hatched his time is fully occupied in catering for their
wants, and we may miss him, or only see him for shorter periods, as it
becomes increasingly necessary for him to keep on the move and find his
food instead of waiting until the unsuspecting prey comes to him.

In July and August, however, when family cares are over, we shall see a
good deal of this species; both old and young chasing insects from
various exposed perches, and announcing the successful capture by a
telling snap of the bill. Towards the end of August, long before lack of
food or storms toll the knell of departing summer, they start on their
long journey to the south; we may not have taken much notice of them
while they were with us, but their departure leaves a gap, and we then
realise the part they played in the picture of a summer’s garden.

                [Illustration: SPOTTED FLYCATCHER
                _Muscicapa grisola_
                Adult (right). Young (left)]

The upper parts are tan brown, with dark streaks on the crown, and pale
margins to the wing coverts. Under parts whitish, streaked on the
throat, breast, and flanks with brown. The sexes are alike in plumage.
The young are similar in colour to the parents, but spotted with buff.
Length 5·8 in.; wing 3·3 in.



                          THE PIED FLYCATCHER
                     Muscicapa atricapilla, Linnæus


Similar in habits but different in appearance, the Pied Flycatcher is
much rarer and more local than the preceding species. Its breeding
haunts are chiefly in the west, in Wales, Lancashire, Westmoreland, and
Cumberland, though it has occasionally bred in other counties. As a
migrant, however, it occurs regularly in the south and east, and, though
not very numerous, a goodly number pass through the country, entering by
the south coast and leaving again in the east from Norfolk northwards. A
return migration takes place in August and September.

During these migrations it may, of course, be found in various kinds of
country, but its breeding haunts are restricted to well-wooded spots,
gardens, orchards, and the outskirts of woods.

The song is more elaborate than that of the Spotted Flycatcher, but it
is by no means a great effort, and may be syllabled “tzit tzit tze trui
trui trui!” several times repeated. The nest is always placed in some
hole, usually in a tree, though exceptionally in the crevice of a wall;
it is composed of bents and moss, and lined with feathers and hair. The
eggs, sometimes numbering as many as nine, are of a uniform pale blue.
Insects form its chief diet, but it is not so exclusive an insect-feeder
as the preceding species, nor does it seize so much of its food on the
wing, but frequently drops from its perch to pick a spider or other
creeping thing from the ground.

In spring the male is black, with a white forehead and white outer
margins to the secondaries. The under parts are white. The female has
the upper parts olive brown, and those parts which are white in the
male, rather buffish in tint. The young bird is spotted, but after the
first moult it resembles the female, except that the wing patches in the
male are more distinct. The young male assumes his full plumage at his
first spring moult. Length 5 in.; wing 3·1 in.



                      THE RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER
                       Muscicapa parva, Bechstein


This species is of irregular and local distribution in Eastern Europe as
far west as certain portions of Germany and South-east France, and it is
only a few stragglers, driven out of their course by adverse weather or
carried along by a rush of other migrants, that reach our coast.

In size it resembles our common species of Flycatcher, but differs in
coloration. The adult males are of a uniform greyish brown above, with
ashy grey cheeks and with the chin and throat reddish orange. The
females and young lack the ash grey on the head, and the reddish orange
of the chin and breast is very much paler. Young males do not acquire
the red breast for two or three years. The four outer pairs of tail
feathers have conspicuous white bases. Length 5·1 in.; wing 2·8 in.



                              THE SWALLOW
                        Hirundo rustica, Linnæus


Perhaps one of the greatest mysteries surrounding bird life, and
awaking, even in the most unthinking, some sense of wonder, is the way
in which some of the smallest and most delicate of birds cross enormous
stretches of land and water twice a year. This mystery of migration has
been especially typified in many countries and from olden times in the
Swallow. Essentially a bird of the air, choosing the houses of man for
nesting-places, and extremely abundant throughout our islands, he cannot
fail to force himself on our attention and to become so associated in
our minds with summer days that his first appearance in spring is
eagerly looked for. As soon as the March winds have died down the first
few stragglers make their appearance, and the early October gales are
well over before the last has left.

During the whole of April they continue to arrive and disperse through
the country, and by the beginning of May we shall find them revisiting
the same chimney or eave where their brood was hatched in the previous
year. They have but a feeble love-song, merely a rapid twittering, which
is especially indulged in during the early hours of dawn, while waiting
for the sun to call to life the flies and gnats on which they breakfast.
Choosing a beam in a barn or outhouse, or a projecting brick in some old
chimney as support, they build a neat cup-shaped nest of mud
strengthened with straw to bind it together, and line it with bents, dry
grass, and feathers. The eggs, generally six in number, are of a white
ground colour dotted or blotched with reddish brown. The duties of
incubation devolve on the hen, who is frequently fed by her mate, but
soon after the young are hatched and she is free once more to seek her
own food, both parents take their share in the duties of housekeeping.

This bird, eminently adapted for flight, with long pointed wings and
short feeble legs, is hardly ever still. Round and round he circles,
sometimes high, sometimes low, wherever food is most abundant, only
perching for a few moments on some bare twig or telegraph wire to warble
his twittering little song, and then once again to glide with graceful
ease through the pathless air. Two families are generally brought to
maturity, but he is in no hurry to leave his home and so he stays on
well into the autumn.

Previous to his departure, however, we will see them collecting in large
flocks at certain places, and for once they seem eager to economise
their strength, spending much of the day sitting and resting. This goes
on for a few days and then suddenly they all disappear, and we shall see
them no more till next spring. Where have they gone, and how? By what
instinct will they find their way over hundreds of miles of sea,
perhaps, for the first time, and yet again in due season return to their
birthplace? By what power will they be able to undertake so long a
journey and not fall exhausted on the way? Such are some of the
questions that force themselves upon us, and our inability to answer
them helps to keep alive that spirit of wonder and reverence for the
powers of nature that is too apt to be overlooked in this matter-of-fact
twentieth century.

Its colour above is of a deep metallic blue; forehead and throat dark
chestnut; pectoral band blue, rest of under parts buffish pink, somewhat
variable in tint. Tail forked, the outermost pair much longer than the
rest, and all except the central pair with white patches on the inner
webs. In the female the outer tail feathers are shorter and the chestnut
less intense. The young are duller, and the chestnut on the throat is
very pale. Length 7·5 in.; wing 4·9 in.



                           RED-RUMPED SWALLOW
                       Hirundo rufula, Temminck.


This species is found in Southern Europe west of Italy through Asia
Minor to Persia and Afghanistan. An adult male was picked up dead on
Fair Isle near the Shetlands early in June 1906.

It may easily be recognised from our own Swallow in having the tail
black; rump, nape and sides of neck, rusty red; and the under parts
rufous finely streaked with black. Length 7 in.; wing 4·8 in.



                            THE HOUSE-MARTIN
                       Chelidon urbica (Linnæus)


More local and less abundant than the preceding species, from which it
may always be distinguished by its white rump and shorter tail, the
House-Martin is nevertheless sufficiently common to be familiar to every
one.

In habits, except for its method of nest-building, it closely resembles
the Swallow. It arrives about a week later, and stragglers may sometimes
be seen even as late as November, long after the bulk of their comrades
have departed. These stragglers are either family parties that have
delayed their departure till the young were ready to fly, or more often
inhabitants of the far north passing through on their long journey to
the tropics.

Nest-building is not commenced till the middle of May, and by this time
many of last year’s nests, which they would fain repair, are tenanted by
that abominable pest—the Sparrow. The nest is built entirely of mud,
plastered bit by bit against the side of some house which has
overhanging eaves. No straw is used to bind it together, but it is
gradually built up to join the eaves till only a small hole is left as a
doorway. The lining is composed of fine grass and many feathers, and the
eggs, which rarely exceed four in number, are pure white. At least two
broods are reared in the season, and then as the weather gets colder
they gradually collect near rivers, where their food, in the shape of
flies and gnats, is more abundant, till finally, after assembling like
the Swallows in large flocks, they suddenly take their departure.

The whole of the upper parts, except the rump, which is white, are
glossy blue-black; the under parts, including the feathers on the feet,
white. The tail is very slightly forked. The sexes are alike in plumage.
The young resemble their parents, but lack the gloss and are
consequently brownish. They may also be recognised by having white tips
to the inner secondaries. Length 5·3 in.; wing 4·25 in.

                [Illustration: SAND-MARTIN
                _Cotile riparia_
                Adult (right). Young (left)]



                            THE SAND-MARTIN
                        Cotile riparia (Linnæus)


This hardy little wanderer, the smallest and dullest of the Swallow
tribe, braves our climate ere the March winds have ceased. At first he
is generally found in the neighbourhood of water, but he gradually
spreads over the country and eventually assembles in the sand-pits or
gravel banks, where he makes his home. Though not attaching himself to
the dwellings of man, he is a sociable little bird and breeds in
colonies, which are in some places very large. They nest in tunnels
which they excavate for themselves in the perpendicular face of a
sand-pit. These tunnels are straight and narrow with a slightly enlarged
chamber at the end. Their length varies from eighteen inches to three
feet, and the different passages occasionally meet and may be used in
common by two pairs. A slight lining of bents and feathers are added,
and the eggs, five in number, are pure white and somewhat pear-shaped.
When the breeding season is over they scatter through the country,
keeping largely to the courses of large rivers, and by the end of
September have almost all departed to other climes.

The sexes are alike and have the upper parts brown. The under parts are
white, with the exception of a brown pectoral band. There is a small
tuft of buff-coloured feathers above the hind toe. In the young the
feathers of the back have pale margins. Length 4·8 in.; wing 4 in.



                             THE GREENFINCH
                      Ligurinus chloris (Linnæus)


Were it not so common, occurring abundantly throughout these islands,
this bird would be appreciated as one of our prettiest songsters and by
no means unattractive in plumage.

The winter is spent in company with other Finches and Buntings in the
fields or stackyards, where it feeds on the grain and other seeds, and
we must confess that it performs its share in despoiling the farmer of
his hard-earned produce, paying at the same time a sort of compensation
in the destruction of numerous weeds. It is resident, and towards the
middle of April constructs a somewhat untidy nest of twigs, rootlets,
and moss, lined with grass, hair, and feathers, usually placed at a
moderate height in a hedge, against the bole of a tree, or more rarely
among ivy against a wall. The eggs, six in number, are large for the
size of the bird and very pale blue, spotted, especially towards the
larger end, with pale rust-red spots. During the summer large numbers of
grubs and caterpillars are consumed in addition to the usual seeds; the
young are fed by regurgitation. The call-note is a long drawn-out
“tsweer,” and is uttered with monotonous frequency during the spring and
summer months, but it has also a very pretty warbling song full of
little trills and modulations which it utters when sitting on a branch
or when courting its mate with drooping wings and outspread tail, and
every feather on its body quivering with excitement and passion.

                [Illustration: GREENFINCH
                _Ligurinus chloris_
                Male (below). Female (above)]

The male has the upper parts olive green, rather yellower on the rump
and forehead. There is a golden-yellow eye-stripe. The wing feathers are
dark brown with bright yellow outer margins. Tail feathers, except the
central pair, which are black, yellow at their base with black tips.
Under parts greenish yellow, rather darker on the flanks. The females
are much duller than the males and very brown on the upper parts in
winter. The young are brownish yellow, streaked on the breast with
darker brown. The males do not acquire their full plumage till their
second year. Length 6 in.; wing 3·5 in.; but some examples are much
smaller.



                              THE HAWFINCH
                    Coccothraustes vulgaris, Pallas


This fine and handsome species, whose appearance is only marred by the
excessive size of its beak, is by no means so rare as it is usually
considered. It is found locally in most wooded districts of England, but
becomes scarcer in the north and is decidedly rare in Wales. To Scotland
and Ireland it is, however, only a rare and occasional wanderer.
Extremely shy, avoiding the haunts of man, and keeping to the tops of
high trees, its presence is very difficult to detect, and the call-note,
which is a weak and high-pitched “sit,” would not attract attention
unless specially listened for.

The nest, which is built fairly high up near the top of a tall hedge or
in a tree, a tall hawthorn being an especial favourite, is composed of
fine twigs lined with rootlets, and much resembles that of a Bullfinch,
except that the cup is considerably deeper. The eggs are extremely
handsome, being of a bluish green, boldly blotched and streaked with
black or olive grey. This bird has one weakness which leads to his
destruction, namely, a great fondness for green peas, in search of
which, forgetting his usual caution, he will leave his haunts to forage
in the nearest garden, where as often as not he pays for his rashness
with his life.

His food consists almost entirely of seeds and berries, insects forming
a very small portion of his diet. In winter he collects in small family
parties and wanders about from wood to wood but seldom strays very far
from home.

The male has the back brown, becoming lighter on the rump; the upper
wing coverts blackish; median coverts whitish. Wing feathers black with
white patches on the inner webs and steel-blue tips, the inner primaries
being curiously expanded at their tips. Tail feathers with black bases
and white tips. The head is yellowish brown, paler on the forehead; nape
grey; lores, chin, and a narrow stripe at the base of the bill black.
Under parts brown. Bill deep lead colour in summer, horn coloured with
black tips in winter. The female is much duller. The young have the head
yellowish; mantle mottled brown; under parts white spotted and barred
with dull brown. Length 7 in; wing 4 in.



                             THE GOLDFINCH
                      Carduelis elegans, Stephens


A cold autumn day, the clouds hang lowering in the sky; on one side
flows the river, sullen, dark, and swollen by the recent rains, on the
other stretch wild and bare meadows whose flat level is broken by clumps
of nettles, thistles, and other coarse plants distasteful to cattle. One
thing alone breaks the general dreariness—it is a flock of Goldfinches,
who, as they hang in strange attitudes on the thistle heads, show the
bright yellow of their wings, making it appear as though some plant,
forgetful of the season, was about to burst into flower. As we approach
to get a closer view, first one and then another will rise and in
undulating flight move on to another clump and call his companions to a
fresh hunting-ground with his little “ti-whit!” His bright colours and
the ease with which he adapts himself to cage life have led to a great
diminution in his numbers, in addition to which the higher and more
scientific methods of farming have sadly restricted his feeding-grounds.
Legislation, however, has stepped in, so that, although still a
comparatively local bird, he is steadily increasing in numbers, and we
have reason to hope that he may long remain a welcome inhabitant of our
fields. The whole winter is spent roaming about on waste lands feeding
on seeds or berries, and destroying countless weeds which would
otherwise overrun the land. In spring the flocks break up, and our
friend returns to the orchard or garden where he nested the previous
year. He constructs an open cup-shaped nest of moss, bents, and small
twigs fairly high up in some tree, often covering the outside with
lichen to assimilate better with its surroundings. The lining consists
chiefly of hair and thistle-down, and the eggs are blue, spotted and
streaked, especially at their larger ends, with reddish brown. The young
are fed at first by the regurgitation of half-digested food from the
crops of their parents, and at this time of year a large number of
insects are consumed. Two broods are often raised during the season, and
then the family party wanders out into the open fields to seek their
food, returning at night to the gardens, till they get gradually farther
and farther from home and no longer visit their summer haunt till the
following spring.

This bird is so well and generally known that no detailed description is
necessary. The female may be distinguished by her more slender bill and
brownish shoulders, (lesser wing coverts). In the adult male the
shoulders are jet black, but young males sometimes show traces of brown.

The young, known as “grey pates,” are greyish brown on the upper parts
and lack the characteristic markings on the head. The true Russian
Goldfinches are rather larger in size and have a nearly white rump. The
true “Siberian Goldfinch,” which is seldom or never imported, lacks the
black on the head. Length 5 in.; wing 3 in. Many of the Goldfinches sold
by dealers as Russian and Siberian are merely large fine birds of our
native species, probably imported from abroad.

                [Illustration: GOLDFINCH
                _Carduelis elegans_
                Male (left). Female (centre). Young (right)]

There are various varieties known to dealers as cheverels, bastard
cheverels, pea-throat, etc., which differ from the usual form in having
the throat white or partially so. They sometimes command a higher price,
as they are said to have a finer song, but this is by no means
necessarily the case.



                               THE SISKIN
                       Carduelis spinus (Linnæus)


Though nearly allied to the Goldfinch, this bird is very different in
appearance, being much smaller and of a yellowish green with black
markings. Scotland is its chief home, where it lives among the
fir-trees, making excursions daily into the open country to seek its
food. In winter it wanders through our islands, but is never very
abundant and always irregular in its visits. It has occasionally nested
in fir plantations in the South of England, but it is only in the
north-east corner of Scotland that it may be considered a common
breeding species. The nest is placed near the top of a fir-tree or at
the end of a lateral branch at some distance from the ground. The
materials are similar to those used by the Goldfinch, and the eggs also
bear a close resemblance to those of that species, but are slightly
smaller. It has a pretty little song, rather more melodious and varied
than that of the Goldfinch, and when courting will frequently rise in
the air and slowly descend with fluttering wings and outspread tail.
Aphides, when in season, form a large portion of their diet, and from
this point of view they prove themselves of great service to man; for
the rest, any seed or berry is eaten, but from their habit of seeking
their food in the open the seeds of weeds and grasses are chiefly
consumed.

The general colour above is greenish yellow streaked with black, except
for the rump, which is brighter and unstreaked. The head is darker and
there is a yellow superciliary stripe. The quills and wing coverts are
black with yellowish margins. Tail feathers yellow with broad black
tips. Chin black, upper breast bright greenish yellow; rest of under
parts yellowish streaked with black, especially on the flanks. The
female is much duller, the prevailing tint being greyish green streaked
with dull brown. The black chin of the male is a variable feature.
Length 4·6 in.; wing 2·8 in.



                            THE CITRIL FINCH
                   Chrysomitris citrinella (Linnæus)


The Citril Finch inhabits the mountainous regions of Central and
Southern Europe, migrating southwards in winter. A specimen was taken
alive in January 1904 near Yarmouth.

The nape and sides of the neck are greyish; back dull green with dusky
streaks; wings and tail black; the whole of the rest of the plumage
yellowish green. The female is rather duller. Length 4·8 in.; wing 3 in.



                               THE SERIN
                     Serinus hortulanus, K. L. Koch


Breeding throughout the greater part of Central and Eastern Europe,
there is no great improbability that some, at all events, of the few
examples of this species that have been obtained in England are genuine
stragglers and not birds that have escaped from captivity. They have
mostly occurred on our southern or eastern coasts, with the single
exception of one taken near Dublin.

The forehead, rump, throat, and breast are yellow; upper parts and
flanks olive streaked with brown; belly white. The female and young only
differ from the male in being duller, and in winter both sexes exhibit
far less yellow. Length 4·5 in.; wing 2·7 in.



                           THE HOUSE-SPARROW
                      Passer domesticus (Linnæus)


Noisy, quarrelsome, and vicious, will perhaps sum up the character of
this species. Cunning, crafty, hardy, and omnivorous, he is always
literally in clover, and under such circumstances is it to be wondered
at that his numbers have increased so as to be beyond all limits?
Wherever man settles, there, sooner or later, will he make his
appearance, sitting on the roof or in the shrubbery, and uttering,
especially in the mornings, his monotonous and impertinent chirp. In
spring he pulls up the crocuses, later he turns his attention to young
and succulent plants just forcing their way above the ground, or if a
new-sown lawn be the object of one’s solicitude he will make it his
business to see that the hoped-for grass-plot remains a barren
tableland. As summer comes on, the drain-pipes are blocked by his untidy
nest—a mere heap of straw and hay warmly lined with feathers. If a tree
or the ivy against the house be chosen for a site, the nest is better
made, and is in fact a substantial dome-built structure with the
entrance at the side, but its position is readily betrayed by long
untidy bits of straw left trailing outside. The eggs are five or six in
number and bluish white spotted and blotched with ash brown. By the end
of summer he will have reared two broods of five or six youngsters each,
and for a time our gardens are allowed a brief respite, while old and
young gather in immense flocks in the harvest-fields, and then following
the grain they spend some weeks round the freshly-made stacks in the
farm-yard. As winter comes on they return once more to towns and
gardens, where, by assuming a cold and starved appearance, they beg and
frequently receive our charity, till the blooming of the spring flowers
once more enables them to start their round of theft and damage. So much
for their relations towards man, and it is to be feared that their
relations towards other birds have also no redeeming point, for they are
so quarrelsome that none of the more delicate and beautiful of our birds
will live near them, and the House-Martin clinging to his home with
pathetic persistence is driven away again and again by this impudent
marauder.

Is there, however, not one good word to be said for him? He is at least
by no means bad-looking—the chestnut of his back, his slate-blue head,
black and white cheeks, and black throat all tend to add a touch of life
and beauty to our gardens which they would otherwise lack; and then in
summer he destroys countless noxious insects while feeding his brood,
and in towns how companionable he is, hopping about our window-sills or
on the roadway, evading the passing traffic with a knowledge born of
long practice—surely these at least are compensations that entitle him
to some regard.

These arguments, however, all fail. Remove the Sparrow and his place
will soon be taken by other birds more beautiful, who will destroy
insects, not merely when they have their broods, but throughout the
year, and they will soon populate our towns and gardens to as great an
extent as the present pest. Remove him? Yes! but how? There’s the rub.
Man in the face of the Sparrow is, at present, powerless. True, the
bitter war he deserves is not waged on him in this country, but abroad,
in Australia and America, relentless persecution is carried on, and
though his numbers may be kept in check he is still able to yearly
inflict a loss and damage that can only be measured in millions of
pounds.

At the same time man is largely to blame for this increase. By careful
farming, woods and thickets which should shelter many other species of
birds are cut down or reduced, and thereby a similar reduction of their
inhabitants is created; grain, the Sparrow’s favourite food, is
cultivated in enormous quantities, and birds of prey who might tend to
keep the Sparrow within reasonable limits are ruthlessly destroyed.
Under these circumstances, then, is it to be wondered at that the
Sparrow, having a large number of his competitors for food reduced, his
enemies swept away, and unlimited food supplied, should increase beyond
all reasonable bounds, especially if added to this we remember that he
is exceedingly crafty and cunning, soon recognising and avoiding traps
and becoming very difficult to approach in places where he is frequently
shot at. He is at the same time adaptable and able to attach himself to
the dwellings of man, who supplies him (albeit involuntarily) with a
plethora of food; under such conditions his increase is only the result
of one of Nature’s first laws, the “survival of the fittest.”

This species is too well known to need a description. The female lacks
the black on the throat and the grey and chestnut on the crown, and her
colours generally are much duller. The young approach the female in
general coloration, but young males often show traces of black on the
throat. Length 6 in.; wing 3 in.



                              TREE-SPARROW
                       Passer montanus (Linnæus)


                [Illustration: TREE-SPARROW
                _Passer montanus_]

Although so closely allied to the preceding pest, the Tree-Sparrow is a
bird of very different temperament and habits, and worthy to be numbered
among our bird friends. Many spend the winter with us, but it is
partially migratory, and their numbers are increased each spring by
arrivals from abroad. It is a rather local and scarce bird, but even in
places where they are common they are so shy that they are hardly ever
seen, and are considered in consequence much rarer than really is the
case. It shuns the habitations of man, whether because of the
overpowering insolence of its larger relative or not is a debatable
point, but the fact remains that if we want to see it we must find some
secluded and undisturbed spot. Holes in pollard willows or in some
hedgerow tree are generally chosen for a nesting-site, inside which a
substantial nest of grass abundantly lined with feathers is formed. Five
eggs form the clutch. These are greyish in ground colour, delicately but
thickly mottled with brown, and it is an almost invariable rule that one
egg of a clutch should be conspicuously lighter than the others. Little
is known of the habits of this bird; its food consists chiefly of seeds
and berries, but in summer insects form a large part of its diet and the
young are almost entirely reared on them. Its notes and song very
closely resemble those of its commoner relative but are slightly more
musical and less harsh.

The adult has the crown and nape dark chestnut, rest of upper parts
chestnut with darker centres to the feathers; upper and lower wing
coverts tipped with white and forming two distinct bands. Cheeks white
with a triangular black patch in the centre. Chin and throat black; rest
of under parts greyish white passing to brown on the flanks. Length 5·6
in.; wing 2·75 in. The sexes are alike in plumage. The young are similar
to their parents but duller.

It is a scarce and local species but widely distributed, and doubtless
from its retiring habits and resemblance to the House-Sparrow it is
often overlooked.



                             THE CHAFFINCH
                       Fringilla cœlebs, Linnæus


“Pink, pink!” Who among us does not know the Chaffinch with his bright
“pink, pink,” and perky walk, as he goes down the garden path in front
of us, or flies into the nearest shelter showing off the white bars on
his wings as he does so. No matter how severe the winter or how hot the
summer, he is always with us, a constant visitor to our gardens, and
when we go into the woods and fields we shall still find him equally at
home. Early in February he begins his song, which consists merely of a
short run down the scale ending up in the syllables “de-wi.” Pairing
takes place early in the season, but some weeks elapse before he thinks
of nesting, well knowing that the insects so necessary for his young are
not yet born. At the end of April his mate will begin to build the nest,
while her lord and master sits quietly by, encouraging her with his song
but not deigning to soil his beak or feet with honest toil. The site
chosen is very variable; the fork of some giant tree or against the
trunk of a hedgerow elm supported by a lateral shoot are the places most
frequently used, but it is often situated in a hedge, and sometimes in
the ivy against a wall. The nest itself is a beautiful mass of moss,
grass, and wool carefully felted together with cobwebs and thickly lined
with hair, lichens being often added on the outside to make it
assimilate better with the surroundings. The eggs, generally four in
number, are greenish blue, spotted and clouded with deep reddish brown,
but occasionally the markings are entirely absent.

                [Illustration: CHAFFINCH
                _Fringilla cœlebs_]

During incubation the male waits on his hen with great care, bringing
her all the titbits and delicacies in the way of insects which he can
find, and both sexes are assiduous in their attentions to their young.

After the duties of housekeeping are over, the rest of the year is spent
in the woods, hedgerows, and gardens, feeding promiscuously on insects,
seeds, and berries. Towards the middle of October large flocks, in which
sometimes one sex largely predominates, reach our shores from more
northerly breeding haunts; most of these, moving southwards, feed
largely on beech-mast in company with Bramblings and then pass on, but
many remain to keep us company during the winter, till early in spring
they return again to their breeding quarters.

The male has the crown and nape bluish grey; back reddish brown; rump
greenish; upper wing coverts white; greater wing coverts black tipped
with white and forming two conspicuous bars. Wing and tail feathers
black, the former edged with yellowish white, and the two outermost
pairs of the latter spotted with white; cheeks and under parts reddish
brown. Bill horn coloured in winter, deep lead grey in summer. Legs dark
brown. The female is of various shades of yellowish brown, but the white
wing bars are conspicuous. The young at first resemble the female.
Length 6 in.; wing 3·4 in.



                             THE BRAMBLING
                   Fringilla montifringilla, Linnæus


This bird, closely allied to the Chaffinch, is only a winter visitor to
this country, visiting us in large numbers every autumn, when it will
usually be found feeding on the beech-mast. In years when the “mast” is
plentiful these birds seem to be much more numerous than in other
seasons, but this is probably due to the fact that, tempted by the
abundance of food, they elect to pass the winter with us instead of
moving on southwards. Frequenting the open field in company with other
Finches, it feeds also largely on seeds and berries, though in summer it
becomes, like the Chaffinch, chiefly insectivorous. Its breeding range
extends across Europe and Asia, in the sub-Arctic birch forests, whence
it migrates southwards through Central Europe, but seldom reaching the
Mediterranean basin. In our islands it is commonest in the north and
east, becoming scarce in the west and south-west. In Ireland it has only
occurred at very irregular intervals. It commences the return journey in
March or earlier, the actual time being largely dependent on the state
of the weather, and by the first week in April the last stragglers have
usually left us.

The male in summer has the head, nape, and upper parts blue black, with
the exception of the rump, which is white. Upper wing coverts orange
buff; greater wing coverts black tipped with white. Throat and breast
orange; belly white; flanks spotted with black. Bill deep lead grey. In
winter the black of the upper parts is largely concealed by broad buff
margins to the feathers and the under parts are much duller. Bill yellow
with a black tip. The female is dull brown on the back and a brownish
white below. The young resemble the female. Length 6·1 in.; wing 3·6 in.



                             THE SNOW-FINCH
                    Montifringilla nivalis, Linnæus


A single example of this bird, which inhabits the high mountains of
Central and Southern Europe, was observed consorting with Larks near Rye
in Sussex in February 1905.

The head and neck are grey; upper parts brown with darker centres; wing
coverts, secondaries, and the whole of the under parts white; tail
feathers, except the central pair, which are brown, white tipped with
black; chin black. Length 6·4 in.; wing 4·53 in.



                               THE LINNET
                       Linota cannabina (Linnæus)


A delightful little bird of sombre plumage is the Linnet, and as a
cage-bird he has long been a prime favourite. In this country he is
generally distributed and fairly common. Almost any kind of country
suits him—hedges near open and cultivated land, furze-clad commons, or
the wild hillside all afford him shelter and food. In habits he is
gregarious and may be seen during the winter in small parties of from
eight to ten flying from place to place, with cheery twittering, and if
the weather be severe, especially when snow is on the ground, he
collects in enormous flocks of several hundreds. Their food consists of
seeds and berries, though insects are largely eaten during the summer
months. The nest is placed in a furze bush or hedge at no great distance
from the ground, and is a neat and compact structure of grass and bents
bound together with a little moss and wool, and lined with hair, wool,
and feathers. The six eggs are of a delicate pale blue blotched with
moderately large reddish-brown spots. Two broods, at least, are reared
in the season, and when the cares of housekeeping are completed they
wander about at random until the following spring brings a return of
more serious occupation. The song, although very pleasing, cannot be
called great, and is a kind of continuous chuckling which is often
delivered whilst on the wing. The flight is as a rule strong, rapid, and
undulating, the flocks often travelling considerable distances to reach
a favourite feeding-ground or when returning to roost in a
well-sheltered plantation. During the courting season the male indulges
also in a very pretty love flight; he rises some distance in the air and
then slowly descends with rapid flutterings of his wings and out-spread
tail, singing at the same time with all his might.

In autumn large numbers reach us from the Continent, and there is also a
certain amount of emigration among our home-bred birds.

                [Illustration: LINNET
                _Linota cannabina_
                Male (above). Female (below)]

The upper parts in the male are brownish, greyer on the nape and more
rufous on the mantle. Wing and tail feathers black with white outer
margins. Crown of the head and breast deep crimson; flanks brown; belly
white. Length 5·5 in.; wing 3·15 in. In winter the red on the crown and
breast is deep brown and the feathers of those parts have broad
yellowish margins. The female resembles the male on the upper parts, but
the mantle is duller and the white of the primaries is much less in
extent. The under parts are yellowish brown streaked with dark brown,
and the head is also streaked with brown.

The young resemble the female, but are paler.



                           THE MEALY REDPOLL
                        Linota linaria (Linnæus)


This species breeds in circumpolar regions far north above the limit of
tree growth, wherever a few dwarf birch or willow afford it enough cover
for nesting, and is only an irregular winter resident in our islands. It
has been subdivided into various races by systematic writers, on
differences which need not concern us here, but although the commonest
form met with in these islands belongs, as we would naturally suppose,
to the North European race, the Greenland form has also been noticed on
several occasions. Wandering through the country in small parties and
associating with our native Redpolls, this species frequents gardens,
stack-yards, or still more frequently, the low scrub that may be found
in many places along the coast. With us its food consists almost
entirely of small seeds, but during the breeding season in the north it
feeds largely on insects. Its stays with us are of short duration, for
it rarely arrives before the first cold weather in November and leaves
our shores again early in February to revisit as soon as possible its
northern home.

It is very similar in general appearance to the following species, but
is larger and paler, especially on the rump. Length 5·1 in.; wing 2·9
in. The Greenland race is larger still, almost equalling the Linnet in
size. There is still another form which has occurred in these islands
and which may be recognised by its nearly white rump.



                           THE LESSER REDPOLL
                      Linota rufescens (Vieillot)


This species is a regular resident with us and may be found in most of
our counties. As a breeding bird, however, it becomes scarcer in the
south of England and local in Scotland, its chief haunts at that time of
year being the north of England, Wales, and Ireland.

During the winter months it wanders about in large parties and its
chuckling call-note may often be heard as they pass from one field to
another. It nests chiefly in woods, the nest being placed against the
trunk of some tree at a moderate height from the ground. The nest is an
extremely neat structure of twigs and moss, beautifully formed and lined
with vegetable down, wool, and feathers. The eggs, except in size, are
much like those of the Linnet, but the ground colour is darker and the
spots are smaller. In summer the Lesser Redpoll feeds chiefly on
insects, but seeds and berries are eaten at all seasons and especially
in winter.

                [Illustration: MEALY REDPOLL
                _Linota linaria_
                Female (above). Male (below)]

They may be found in all kinds of country, generally associating with
other Finches and Buntings, but they are rather more partial to woods,
gardens, and orchards. Their song bears a family resemblance to that of
the Linnet, but is not so melodious or sweet. This bird is very tame and
confiding, and may often be watched as it moves about in the trees of
some orchard, examining them carefully for insects and reminding one in
its actions of the Tits.

The male has the upper parts of a warm brown with darker streaks. Lores
and throat black; the crown, rump, and breast are carmine; rest of the
under parts whitish, becoming browner with dark streaks on the flanks.
In autumn the red tints on the rump and breast are much obscured by the
broader pale edgings to the feathers. The female is rather smaller than
the male and lacks the red on the breast and rump. The breast is buff
with dark stripes, and the rump similar in colour to the mantle but
paler. The young resemble the hen but lack the red on the crown. Length
4·75 in.; wing 2·75 in.

In winter this species shows far more red on the breast than does the
Mealy Redpoll at the same time of year.



                               THE TWITE
                     Linota flavirostris (Linnæus)


Inhabiting moorlands and breeding among the heather, this gregarious
species may be found from the Midlands northwards. In England, however,
it cannot be called common, but in parts of North Wales, Scotland, and
Ireland it is abundant. It nests in colonies, the nests being placed on
the ground or in a low bush; they are neatly made of rootlets, pieces of
heather, and moss, lined with hair and wool.

The eggs, like those of the other Redpolls, are blue spotted with red.
Two broods are reared in the season, and as soon as the first brood is
fledged the whole colony will sometimes move off to an adjacent spot for
the second brood, so that they may be found with young in the nest one
week, and a few days later no sign of them or their young will be found
at that spot. During the summer their food consists largely of insects,
while seeds form their chief diet in winter. After the breeding season
they leave the upper moorlands and wander south, a fair number reaching
the south of England, especially in severe winters. It chiefly frequents
the wild open country and marshes by the sea-shore, but in the more
wooded localities it is rarely found and it seldom perches on trees. It
has a pleasing little song and the call-note is a loud “twah-it,” whence
its English name of Twite.

General colour above dark brown with slightly paler edgings to each
feather. Wing feathers blackish with white outer margins, as in the
Linnet. Tail somewhat forked, the feathers being black with whitish
inner margins to the three outer pairs. Under parts buffish white
streaked with brown. In the male the lores, cheeks, throat, and rump are
suffused with rose red, but the female shows no red whatever. The bill
in both sexes is deep horn-coloured in summer and yellowish in winter.
The young resemble the female. Length 5 in.; wing 3 in.



                             THE BULLFINCH
                       Pyrrhula europæa, Vieillot


Better known probably as a cage-bird than as a wild inhabitant of our
woods and gardens, the Bullfinch is nevertheless by no means rare. It
inhabits woods, coppices, and thick hedgerows, and is rather a skulking
species, but may be recognised when on the wing by its white rump. The
call-note is a rather plaintive “whee-ou,” and it is easily attracted by
imitating its call. Possibly it pairs for life, at least it is generally
found in pairs, and even during the winter the male shows considerable
affection for his mate, generally keeping close to her and frequently
feeding her. The song is a feeble medley of soft flute-like notes, and
is generally accompanied by a side to side motion of the tail and body.
The nest is commenced in May and consists of a shallow platform of twigs
placed three or four feet from the ground in a thick bush or hedge, and
is lined with fine rootlets. The eggs, usually four or five in number,
are greenish blue spotted and streaked round the larger end with black
or pale purplish lilac. The young are fed by regurgitation, insects
forming a large proportion of the parents’ food during the summer.

When fledged young and old wander about for a time together, but the old
birds soon forage on their own account and leave the young to look after
themselves. Berries, especially those of the privet, are largely
consumed in autumn, but all kinds of seeds form their diet during the
winter months, and in spring they turn their attention to young buds,
more especially those of fruit-trees. For this they may well be forgiven
as they make ample compensation by destroying caterpillars innumerable
during the summer months.

The male has the whole of the head a glossy blue-black, mantle brownish
grey. Larger wing coverts black tipped with whitish to form a
conspicuous bar. Primaries brown; secondaries and tail glossy black;
rump white. The whole of the under parts bright brick-red turning to
white on the vent. The female is duller and the under parts are of a
uniform brown. The young resemble the hen but lack the black crown.
Length 6 in.; wing 3·25 in.

This species is generally distributed throughout the wooded districts of
England, Wales, and Ireland, but is rather more local in Scotland.



                          THE SCARLET GROSBEAK
                       Pyrrhula erythina (Pallas)


The Scarlet Grosbeak breeds from Northern Russia across Siberia to
Kamchatka, and in winter it is chiefly found in the Oriental region. As
a straggler on migration, however, it has visited many places in Europe
to the west of Russia, and one or two examples have been obtained in
this country.

The adult male has the greater part of its plumage rose red, browner on
the mantle and flanks. Quills and tail dark brown with paler buffish
margins. The female is olive brown with darker striations, the under
parts dull white, buffish on the throat and breast, and striped with
brown on the flanks. Length 5·5 in.; wing 3·25 in.

                [Illustration: BULLFINCH
                _Pyrrhula europæa_
                Male (right). Female (left)]



                           THE PINE GROSBEAK
                     Pyrrhula enucleator (Linnæus)


This species, as its name indicates, is an inhabitant of pine woods and
makes its home in the vast conifer forests of Northern Europe and
Siberia. Over the rest of Europe it is very scarce and is only known
from occasional stragglers. In this country about forty different
occurrences have been recorded, but it is probable that a large number
of them had escaped from captivity.

The general colour of the male is a rich rose red all over, rather
greyer on the flanks and belly. Wing coverts brown, each feather having
a pinkish white tip. Quills and tail brown, secondaries margined with
white. In the female the rose tint is replaced by a dull golden yellow.
The young are greyish green and do not assume their full plumage before
their second year. Length 8·25 in.; wing 4·25 in.



                             THE CROSSBILL
                       Loxia curvirostra, Linnæus


The Crossbill is by no means a common bird and very uncertain in its
appearances. A fair number breed as early as March in the pine woods of
Scotland, and during the rest of the year it wanders about in small
parties. Feeding chiefly though not exclusively on the seeds of the
pine, which the peculiar formation of its beak enables it to reach with
ease, it will generally be found in plantations of evergreens.
Essentially of a wandering nature, it never stays long in one locality,
but leads a regular roving gipsy existence, frequently making its home
wherever it happens to find itself in the breeding season, and from this
cause it has nested at irregular intervals in many of the southern
counties of England and in Ireland. The nest is always built on the fork
or lateral branch of a fir-tree, and is composed of twigs, grass, and
moss, lined with finer materials of the same kind.

The eggs are usually four in number and are pale blue with a few reddish
spots and streaks towards the larger end. It is a very silent bird and
has no song worthy of a name. The call-note is “gip-gip.”

Insects and caterpillars are largely consumed during the summer, but
seeds and berries form their chief food in winter.

When first hatched the bill in young birds is straight, but it assumes
its characteristic shape very soon after they are fledged.

The adult male is crimson all over except the wings and tail, which are
brown. The female is dark greenish yellow with striations of a darker
tint. The young resemble the female but are greyer and greener. Young
cocks probably do not assume their full plumage until the second or
third year but they breed in their immature dress. Old cocks lose the
red and become golden yellow. Length 6·5 in.; wing 3·8 in.

                [Illustration: CROSSBILL
                _Loxia curvirostra_
                Male (below). Young (left). Female (above)]

The bill varies considerably in this species, and many individuals,
which have a very stout bill, have been considered and named as a
separate species, known as the Parrot Crossbill. These stout-billed
individuals are most numerous in Scandinavia and Northern Russia, though
they have been also obtained in this country, and their claim to
specific rank is still a debatable point.



                        THE TWO-BARRED CROSSBILL
                     Loxia bifasciata (C. L. Brehm)


This species, whose true home is in Northern Russia and Siberia, has
visited this country in small flocks on several occasions.

It may easily be distinguished from the Common Crossbill by the two
white wing-bars; it is also rather smaller in size. Length 6·25 in.;
wing 3·7 in.



                        THE BLACK-HEADED BUNTING
                    Emberiza melanocephala, Scopoli


The Black-headed Bunting must not be confused with the Reed Bunting,
which is known in many parts of the country under the former name.

The true Black-headed Bunting is an inhabitant of South-eastern Europe,
but it occasionally wanders westwards and has been taken about four
times in this country. The male has the head black, back brownish
orange, and under parts bright lemon yellow. The female and young are
yellowish brown, and the male in autumn has the bright colours obscured
by rufous edgings to the feathers. Length 6·75 in.; wing 3·7 in.



                            THE CORN BUNTING
                       Emberiza miliaria, Linnæus


One cannot well mistake this species, as he sits on the telegraph wires
bordering the road, uttering times without number the long drawn-out
“dzree-e-e” that serves him for a song.

In appearance he much resembles the Skylark, but, unlike that species,
which is always so alert and ever on the move, the Corn Bunting spends
most of his day sitting in an exposed situation on a hedge or on some
tall plant in the open field. The nest is a fairly neat structure of
grass, roots, and moss, with a lining of horsehair, and is usually
placed on the ground in the middle of a field, and often at no great
distance from a bush or some other post of vantage on which, as noted
above, he spends the greater part of the day. The eggs are extremely
handsome, being of a creamy white boldly blotched and scrolled with very
dark brown. Insects and seeds are equally consumed, and both being
abundant on the cultivated land, in which he delights, he earns an easy
living with the minimum of exertion.

During the winter months he loves company and consorts with the Larks
and Finches, generally roosting on the ground with the former.

The sexes are alike and have the upper parts pale brown streaked with a
darker shade of the same colour. Throat whitish margined with brown
spots; rest of the under parts buffish white spotted on the breast and
flanks with brown. Length 7 in.; wing 3·6 in.

The young are rather darker and have the wing coverts broadly margined
with fulvous.

It is by no means so abundant as the next species but is widely
distributed in open, wild, or cultivated country.



                           THE YELLOW BUNTING
                      Emberiza citrinella, Linnæus


Day after day throughout the spring and early summer months the Yellow
Bunting may be found, sitting on the topmost spray of a hedge and
repeating with monotonous frequency his little song, which has often
been rendered by the words, “A little bit of bread and no cheese.” It is
neither long nor pretty, there is no music in it, and it is delivered
without soul or fervour, yet in open and cultivated country, where the
songs of the woodland birds are absent, it forms on a warm summer’s day,
a fitting accompaniment to the more ambitious performance of the Lark.
Decked out in bright yellow livery toned down and shaded with other dark
markings, the Yellow Bunting receives too little recognition at our
hands and is not appreciated at his true worth. Harmless, bright, and
sociable in habits, he may be found throughout the year in the open
fields and hedgerows, and except during the summer months, when insects
form a large portion of his diet, he is essentially a seed-eater,
destroying in countless numbers the seeds of the various weeds that have
a hard struggle for life amongst the cultivated crops.

The nest is a neat structure of grass, roots, and moss woven together
and is lined with horsehair. Five eggs form the usual clutch; they are
whitish streaked and veined, after the manner characteristic of this
family, with purplish red.

In autumn the young and old visit the standing crops in family parties,
and they pass the winter seeking their food on the ground in stubbles
and fallows or visiting the stack-yards for the fallen grain.

The male has the head, throat, and under parts bright yellow, spotted or
streaked, except on the throat, with dark brown. Mantle yellowish brown
with darker streaks. Rump reddish brown. Wings brown with broad deep
rufous edgings to the secondaries and wing coverts. Tail feathers dark
brown with white spots near the tip of the inner web of the two outer
pairs. The female resembles the male, but it is very much duller and
darker in colour. The young are pale brown all over, lighter on the
under parts and more rufous on the back, each feather having a dark
central stripe. Length 6·5 in.; wing 3·25 in.

                [Illustration: YELLOW BUNTING (YELLOW HAMMER)
                _Emberiza citrinella_
                Male (below). Young (above)]

This species is widely distributed throughout Great Britain, and is
often known as the Yellow Hammer, the latter word being a corruption of
“Ammer,” the German word for a Bunting.



                            THE CIRL BUNTING
                        Emberiza cirlus, Linnæus


This species is very similar to the Yellow Bunting in habits and
plumage, from which it may be most easily distinguished by the black
throat and a black line through the eye. In our islands, however, it is
very local and chiefly confined to the southern counties, but stragglers
have been met with as far north as Yorkshire.

Although frequenting the hedgerows and open country it delights in
trees, uttering its song from the higher branches of some hedgerow elm.

The nest is placed near the ground and constructed of similar materials
to that of the Yellow Bunting, but the eggs differ in having the
markings bolder and chiefly restricted to the larger end, and the hair
lines, so numerous on those of the former species, are much fewer in
number. Two broods are reared in the season, the young birds being fed
on grasshoppers and insects, and the rest of the year is spent in the
fields in company with other flocks of Finches.

The male has the top of the head and nape and rump greyish green,
streaked with darker. Wing coverts and feathers of the mantle deep
reddish brown with dark median spot or streak and broad light margins.
Wing and tail dark brown. Cheeks yellow with black line through the eye.
Chin and throat black, succeeded by a narrow yellow collar. Upper breast
grey; lower breast chestnut. Rest of under parts pale yellow, becoming
brownish streaked with darker on the flanks.

The female is much duller in colour and has the throat yellow. She
closely resembles the hen Yellow Hammer, but may be distinguished by the
absence of yellow on the head and by the lesser wing coverts being
reddish brown and not black. The young roughly resemble the female.
Length 6·5 in.; wing 3·25 in.



                          THE ORTOLAN BUNTING
                      Emberiza hortulana, Linnæus


Up to within the last few years this bird was so freely imported alive
to supply the wants of epicures that a large number of its supposed
occurrences in these islands are open to suspicion. There seems,
however, little doubt, that genuine wild examples have reached these
islands from time to time.

This species breeds sparingly in Scandinavia and thence southwards
through Denmark, Germany, and France, but it is only in the south of
Europe that it becomes common, migrating eastwards and southwards to
Abyssinia and North India in winter.

The male has the head greyish; rest of upper parts pale brown streaked
with black. Throat yellow, becoming greyish on the upper breast; rest of
under parts pale chestnut. The hen is duller with darker streaks on the
head. Length 6 in.; wing 3·25 in.

                [Illustration: CIRL BUNTING
                _Emberiza cirlus_
                Male (left). Young (right)]



                           THE MEADOW BUNTING
                         Emberiza cia, Linnæus


This Bunting is found throughout Central and Southern Europe; it has
only been recorded in this country during the last four years.

The head is blue grey, with three dark stripes across it; wings and tail
dark brown, the secondaries edged with rufous; the whole of the rest of
the plumage pale cinnamon brown with darker stripes on the back. Length
6·2 in.; wings 3·1 in.



                      THE SIBERIAN MEADOW BUNTING
                        Emberiza cloides, Brandt


This Asiatic species has only once been taken in Europe, namely at
Flamborough Head in 1886. The colour of the upper parts is chiefly
chestnut. There is a white superciliary stripe, and a white patch on the
cheeks. The under parts are white with a chestnut band across the upper
breast Length 6·5 in.; wing 3·4 in.



                           THE RUSTIC BUNTING
                        Emberiza rustica, Pallas


This is an eastern species, nesting from Archangel eastwards across
Siberia, migrating southwards in winter. Of late years it seems to have
had a tendency to spread westwards, and stragglers have occurred
throughout Europe, including Great Britain.

The adult male is a very handsome bird; the head is black with the
exception of a white stripe behind the eye; the upper parts and a band
across the breast, chestnut. Under parts white striped with chestnut.
The female has the head brown mottled with black, and is otherwise much
duller than the male. The young is brown above streaked with darker, the
under parts whitish streaked with brown. Length 5·4 in.; wing 3·2 in.



                           THE LITTLE BUNTING
                        Emberiza pusilla, Pallas


The Little Bunting has a breeding range similar to the last species and
occurs almost yearly on migration in Southern Europe, the south-east of
France forming its western limit.

The male has the head chestnut with the exception of a black
superciliary stripe; rest of the upper parts reddish brown streaked with
darker. Chin and throat pale chestnut, under parts white streaked with
black on the breast and flanks. The female is duller, and the young bird
has the chestnut of the crown replaced by buff. Length 5 in.; wing 2·75
in.



                      THE YELLOW-BREASTED BUNTING
                        Emberiza aureola, Pallas


This is an Arctic species, ranging in summer across Siberia eastwards
from Archangel; in winter it migrates to Palestine and Southern Asia.

An immature female was shot in Norfolk in September 1905.

The adult has the forehead, cheeks, and chin black; rest of upper parts
deep reddish brown, brightest on the rump; under parts bright yellow
with a narrow chestnut collar across the upper breast. Length 5 in.;
wing 3·1 in. The female is much duller, and in winter the colours in
both sexes are obscured by long greyish margins.



                              REED BUNTING
                      Emberiza schœniclus, Linnæus


The Reed Bunting is an inhabitant of marshy places where osiers, alders,
and long rough sedgy grass and reeds abound, and in such localities it
is by no means uncommon. In summer the male may often be seen clinging
to some reed stem, as he sings his very short and feeble song. Owing to
his black head and white collar, which enable him to be very easily
distinguished, he is known in some parts of the country as the
Black-headed Bunting. The true Black-headed Bunting is, however, a very
different bird, but it so rarely occurs in this country that the
confusion likely to arise is not very serious. The nest is placed on the
ground in the rough grass at the base of some shrub, or in the side of a
tussock, and always near water. It is a fairly neat structure, built,
like the nests of all Buntings, of grass, bents, and moss, with a lining
of hair. The eggs, four to six in number, are very characteristic of
this species, the ground colour is usually purplish grey, boldly
blotched, marked and streaked with dark brown. Very handsome clutches
are sometimes found, in which the ground colour is pale green, showing
off the dark scrolls and blotches to great advantage. If the nest be
discovered and frequently visited after the young are hatched, they will
leave it at a very early age, long before they can fly. In such cases,
however, the anxiety of the parent birds as they fly round and round the
spot soon leads to the discovery of their children.

Except under stress of weather, it is a very resident species, seldom
leaving its favourite haunts, but sometimes in winter, when these are
frozen over, it will be found in the fields consorting with large flocks
of Buntings and Finches. As a rule, however, it is by no means
gregarious, rarely more than ten or twelve being found together.

In summer the male has the whole of the head and chin deep black,
surrounded by a white collar and having a white stripe along the line of
the lower mandible. Mantle and wings black with broad rufous and grey
edgings. Rump grey streaked with black. Under parts white striped with
brown on the flanks. In winter the black and white of the head and neck
are largely obscured by pale brownish margins to each feather.

The female has the upper parts tawny brown with darker centres to the
feathers. Under parts pale buff streaked with brown. The young resemble
the female. Length 6 in; wing 3 in.



                          THE LAPLAND BUNTING
                     Calcarius lapponicus (Linnæus)


This species is only known to us by the appearance of a few stragglers
that have wandered here from time to time in autumn and winter, though
during the last few years its occurrences have been more numerous and
regular, especially along our eastern and south-eastern shores. In its
winter dress it bears at a distance a superficial resemblance to the
Lark, and from being found in situations, viz. salt marshes near the
coast, where the latter is also abundant it has probably frequently been
overlooked.

It is another of those species whose home is circumpolar, and rears its
young on the lonely tundras of Lapland, Novaya Zembla, and Franz Josef
Land. In winter it moves southward, but becomes scarce south of the
Baltic and is unknown in Italy, the south of France, and Spain. As
mentioned above, the adult in winter is not unlike a Lark at a distance,
but in summer the male is a very handsome bird. The crown, cheeks,
throat, and breast are black, the hind neck is banded with deep
chestnut, which is separated from the black of the head by a white
stripe, which, starting behind the eye, runs backwards for a short
distance and then turns downwards, to lose itself in the white of the
abdomen. The rest of the upper parts are brownish with darker centres to
the feathers, while the under parts are white with dark streaks on the
flanks. In winter the brighter colours are hidden by long brown margins
to the feathers which wear off in spring. The female retains her dull
dress throughout the year.

The hind claw in this species is straight and longer than the toe.
Length 6·25 in.; wing 3·6 in.



                            THE SNOW BUNTING
                    Plectrophenax nivalis (Linnæus)


Like the preceding species, the true home of this bird is also in the
Far North; it has, however, a much wider breeding range, and a few pairs
nest annually on the mountains of Scotland and in the Shetlands.

The nest is placed on the ground, hidden in a cleft of the rock or among
loose boulders, and, as is characteristic of nests in holes, is very
loose in construction. It is made of moss and dry grass, and is warmly
lined with feathers. About six eggs, of a very pale blue spotted and
zoned round the larger end with purplish red, form the clutch.

Unlike the Lapland Bunting, which is found in the salt marshes or on the
tundras of the North, this species shows a predilection for the rocky
coasts or hills covered with loose boulders and is seldom found in the
localities frequented by the former bird. In winter it is a regular
migrant to our east coast, and also visits the west, but more sparingly.

                [Illustration: SNOW BUNTING
                _Plectrophanes nivalis_
                (right)
                LAPLAND BUNTING
                _Calcarius lapponiacus_
                (left)
                Both in winter plumage]

In cold winters it becomes much more abundant, returning northwards,
however, on the first approach of milder weather.

In summer the adult male has the back, inner secondaries, two-thirds of
each of the primaries, and the six central tail feathers black, the rest
of the plumage being white; the female resembles her mate but is rather
smaller, the head and neck are streaked with greyish white, and there is
less white on the wing.

In winter both sexes have broad tawny margins to the feathers of the
back, while the head, breast, and flanks are largely suffused with the
same colour. The young bird is greyish brown, spotted both above and
below with a darker tint of the same colour. Length 6·55 in.; wing 4·4
in.



                              THE STARLING
                       Sturnus vulgaris, Linnæus


Except that it commits depredations in the cherry orchards as the fruit
ripens, nothing but good can be said of the Starling. Tame, confiding,
no mean songster, and an excellent mimic, he is very welcome wherever
found. In autumn he congregates in vast flocks, whose numbers reach many
thousands, and there must be few people who have not noticed these
flocks go through their aerial evolutions, now drawing close together in
a compact mass, or spreading out in wedge-shaped formation, rising and
falling as though imbued with one mind. These flocks are to a large
extent migratory, and in the evening will often collect to roost on
reed-beds, which are laid flat with their weight. To enter such a spot
quietly just after dusk and then make a noise, will afford one a
sensation never to be forgotten, as they rise with a sound like rolling
thunder, caused by the clattering of thousands of wings against the
reeds, while others farther off, disturbed in turn, will also rise,
until the whole flock is on the wing, circling round our head with a
subdued roar which increases and diminishes as they approach or retreat.
In a few minutes, however, if we remain quiet, they will soon begin to
return, making no sound except the rattling together of the reeds as
they settle, and in a few minutes all is quiet once more. At daybreak
the flock divides into smaller parties which set out to forage in the
neighbouring country. In the afternoon, as their hunger is appeased, the
scattered flocks begin to collect again, and it is then that we may
observe the evolutions referred to above, till finally at dusk they are
all roosting once more in the reed-bed. After staying in the locality
for some time, their numbers being increased by fresh arrivals daily,
they will one night fail to return to their accustomed quarters, but
will instead start on a long journey on which we are unable to follow
them. Apart, however, from these large flocks, smaller bodies will be
found throughout the winter, wandering over the country and even
penetrating the parks and gardens of our large cities. In March and
April a migration of small flocks returning to their accustomed breeding
haunts takes place, but the immense flocks of the autumn are never seen,
and we can but suspect that Nature has in some way or other taken heavy
toll of them.

                [Illustration: STARLING
                _Sturnus vulgaris_
                Adult (right). Young (left)]

Any hole in a tree or wall, the roof of a house, drain-pipes, church
towers, or cliffs suit this species for a nesting-site. An untidy mass
of straw, grass, and rubbish is collected to form a nest, and a few
feathers, or wool, are added as lining. Five eggs of a uniform pale blue
form the clutch, and two broods are reared in the season. The young when
fledged begin at once to join with those from other nests and thus form
the nucleus of the immense flocks which are, perhaps, one of the main
characteristics of this species.

It feeds chiefly on insects, worms, and slugs, which are sought for in
damp meadows and pasture-lands. It walks in a curious deliberate way,
and on seeing a likely worm casting, it pushes in its closed beak, and
after drawing it back with open mandibles, the hole, thus enlarged, is
examined for the grub it may contain. It is also very partial to sheep
runs, settling on the sheep’s backs and relieving them of many and
various ticks and parasites.

The sexes are practically alike and in winter the whole of the plumage
is glossy black, with metallic reflections, the feathers of the upper
parts being tipped with buff and those of the under parts with white. In
summer it loses almost all the spots on the under parts and a large
proportion of those on the back. The bill is lemon yellow in summer and
blackish in winter. The young are greyish brown all over, rather lighter
on the chin and under parts. In very old birds the feathers round the
base of the bill wear off, leaving a bare patch as in the Rook. Length
8·5 in.; wing 5·2 in.



                        THE ROSE-COLOURED PASTOR
                        Pastor roseus (Linnæus)


Eastern Europe and Asia is the true breeding home of this species, which
wanders about in immense numbers, breeding gregariously wherever it
happens to find itself at that season. Stragglers from these flocks
often join with other migrating hosts of birds, and thus this species
occurs as an irregular wanderer over the rest of Europe. The farther
west, however, the rarer it becomes, and its occurrences in our islands,
though noted from most districts, are not very frequent. It is about the
size of the common Starling but has a longish black crest. Except for
the back, shoulders, breast, and belly, which are rose pink, it is of a
uniform metallic black. Length 8·5 in.; wing 5 in.



                               THE CHOUGH
                     Pyrrhocorax graculus (Linnæus)


This bird is one of the handsomest and at the same time our rarest
member of the Crow family. With its glossy black plumage and brilliant
red legs and beak it forms a beautiful sight to the ornithologist as he
watches it flying over the wild and wind-swept headland that juts out
into the Atlantic.

Its flight is extremely graceful and peculiar; a few beats of its wings,
then it glides onward with outstretched pinions, the ends of the outer
primaries being well separated from each other; its wings close, it
drops towards the ground, and then with a few more beats it recovers its
former level and continues its flight. This species, which is only found
on rocky coasts, is yearly becoming scarcer, but its chief enemy, if we
except the ubiquitous egg-collector, is one of its own family, the
Jackdaw. As this latter species extends its breeding quarters, so the
Chough has to give way before it, being turned out of its nesting-holes
till, weary of ineffectual attempts, it leaves the locality. In other
places that king of Falcons, the Peregrine, will attack it, resulting in
its very rapid extermination. This, however, is apparently an acquired
taste on the part of certain Peregrines only, as we have known both
species to nest on the same cliff without apparently interfering with
each other in the least.

Any hole or fissure in the rock, or the ledge of some cliff, will
provide this bird with a nesting-site, and a substantial cup-shaped
structure of roots and twigs is built, and lined with wool, rabbit
fleck, and hair. Three to five eggs are laid; they are pale greyish
white in colour, spotted and streaked with grey or pale brown. Both
parents attend to the wants of their young, feeding them on larvæ grubs
and beetles. This species is almost entirely an insect-feeder and far
less omnivorous than most of his kind, the long curved beak being
especially useful for poking the soft earth or overturning the stones in
its search for food. The note, which is very frequently uttered, is not
unlike that of the Jackdaw but rather more metallic.

The adult is of a deep, glossy blue black all over. Bill and legs cherry
red. The sexes are alike and the young only differ in having the bill
and legs dull orange. Length 16 in.; wing 10·7 in.

This species is now only to be found in the wilder and more remote parts
of the west of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. A few solitary pairs may
still be found in some parts of England, but they are rapidly
disappearing.



                             THE NUTCRACKER
                   Nucifraga caryocatactes (Linnæus)


A few stragglers of this species have occasionally visited our east and
south-east coasts in autumn, and at least two examples have been
recorded from Scotland, but it has not so far visited Ireland. Fir
forests in Scandinavia and Central Europe form the home of this bird,
where it is resident and breeds early in the year while the snow is
still on the ground. In appearance it is quite unlike any of our other
species of Crow, being pale umber brown profusely spotted, except on the
crown, with triangular white markings. Length 12 in.; wing 7·5 in.



                                THE JAY
                     Garrulus glandarius (Linnæus)


Considering the ruthless war waged on this unfortunate species by every
gamekeeper throughout the country, it is little short of marvellous that
we can still hear his harsh scream in most of our woods.

                [Illustration: JAY
                _Garrulus glandarius_]

He is very wary and cautious, and spends most of his time, except when
actually feeding, on the tops of the trees, flying off with many
protestations to another part of the wood on the least sign of danger.
His great supposed sin is the destruction of the Pheasants’ eggs, though
we doubt whether his depredations are sufficiently great to warrant his
wholesale slaughter. The fox has been saved from extermination in the
interests of hunting, and it is now conceded that, after all, his
presence does not so greatly affect the interests of those whose sport
lies with the gun rather than with the horse, and if only keepers could
be taught to leave the Jay alone the loss of a few head of game, that
would hardly be missed, would surely be more than compensated for by the
sight of this beautiful species as he dodges through the wood in front
of the beaters. No better watch-dog could be found, and many a
trespasser will quit a wood owing to the tell-tale warning given by the
Jay. Noisy and active as he is during the winter, he becomes in spring
exceptionally quiet, and only when the nest is approached does he give
any indication of his presence in the neighbourhood. The nest is
generally placed some ten feet from the ground in the fork of a tender
sapling and is made entirely of twigs and lined with fine roots. It is
open and cup-shaped, and the eggs, small for the size of the bird, are
pale green in ground colour very thickly mottled with olive brown with,
generally a narrow black irregular line at the larger end. The young are
chiefly fed on insects, spiders, and grubs, but this species is
practically omnivorous and nothing comes amiss, large numbers of berries
being eaten in winter. In this country he is strictly resident, rarely
wandering far from the woods which formed his summer home, but in the
northern parts of his range on the Continent he migrates, sometimes in
considerable flocks, some of which visit our shores in autumn, and
although these Continental birds are said to be distinguishable from our
own native race, we suspect that it is largely owing to these
immigrations that we can still number the Jay as one of our common
indigenous birds.

The general colour of the nape, mantle, and under parts is vinous brown.
Crown of the head whitish streaked with black; malar stripe black. Chin,
rump, and under tail coverts white; tail and primaries black, the latter
with white outer margins. Secondaries black, the outermost five with
white bases. Wing coverts barred white, black, and blue. Length 14·25
in.; wing 7·2 in. The sexes and young are all alike in plumage.

This species is generally distributed, except in the north of Scotland
and Ireland, where it becomes scarce.

It is perhaps worthy of note that in the Jays and Crows which build open
nests, the nestlings have dark-coloured mouths with no marked light
edging, whereas in the Jackdaw, that breeds in holes, the sides of the
mouth are enlarged and whitish in colour and show up conspicuously in
the semi-darkness of their home.

                [Illustration: MAGPIE
                _Pica rustica_]



                               THE MAGPIE
                         Pica rustica (Scopoli)


This is another species against whom every man’s hand in this country is
raised. Being much less a bird of the woods and preferring to make its
home in high trees growing in hedgerows, or even in tall hedges, it has
unfortunately suffered much more than the Jay and is now very local in
its distribution. Bold and omnivorous, it finds little difficulty in
procuring a livelihood, and if it settles in the neighbourhood of a
poultry or game farm it must be conceded that it will do considerable
damage. On the other hand, it will also destroy countless worms, slugs,
mice, and even young rats, so that it is by no means wholly mischievous,
and in other countries where it is unmolested it becomes very tame and
confiding, nesting in farm-yards or even in the towns, and those
countries seem but little the worse for its presence. A fine showy bird,
it is a pleasure to see him as he flies with rapid beats of his short
wings across some field, rattling out his cheery chatter as he goes.
What a perky chap he looks as he struts about on the fallow, or, having
had his attention drawn by a strange object some yards off, approaches
it with a few long hops and then with characteristic caution stops to
examine it from a distance. Satisfied that it is harmless, he stalks to
it with slow majestic walk, his head held high in the air and slightly
inclined to one side; then suddenly he sees us—a harsh chatter and off
he goes to the nearest cover. The nest is a huge domed structure
substantially built of twigs, those with sharp spikes or thorns being
used for preference. Inside, a deep cup is made of mud, and inside this
again is placed a thick lining of grass. The eggs are six in number and
of a bluish colour irregularly dotted, mottled, or splashed with olive
brown. It is a strictly resident bird, rarely wandering far from its
accustomed haunts and frequently going about in pairs.

The whole bird is glossy black with bluish and green reflections, except
for the scapulars and belly, which are white. The rump is greyish.
Length, including tail, 18 in.; tail 10 in.; wing 7·75 in. The sexes and
young are all much alike in plumage.



                              THE JACKDAW
                        Corvus monedula, Linnæus


Abundant and gregarious in most parts of the country, this species may
in winter be found associating with flocks of Rooks in the open pastures
and arable land. It is a noisy bird and the call-note “che-ak” will
generally warn us of its presence. It is found in all kinds of
situations and localities, being equally at home in the wild open
country, along the coast, rocky or alluvial, or on arable land, in
well-timbered districts, and even in the middle of our busy cities; but
from certain apparently suitable districts it is absent, and although
abundant in some towns, in others it is hardly ever found. Along the
coast where it does not occur, the Chough still holds its own, but as we
noticed under that species the presence of the Jackdaw soon drives away
the more delicate bird.

                [Illustration: JACKDAW
                _Corvus monedula_]

Practically omnivorous, he experiences no difficulty in procuring a
living wherever he may be, but will usually be found associated with
Rooks or Starlings on the pastures, often perching on the backs of sheep
to rid them of the parasites with which they are infested. Holes in
trees, walls, or ruins, church towers, chimneys, or cavities in rocks,
provide suitable nesting-sites. A rough nest is built of sticks, lined
with an abundance of fur, rabbit fleck, wool and any other soft
material.

The six eggs are pale blue in colour, with large distinct spots of olive
brown.

Although this species is to be found among us at all times of the year,
considerable migration both to and from these islands goes on in winter,
large flocks sometimes arriving on our eastern coasts.

The sexes are practically indistinguishable, and are of a glossy
purplish black on the head and back, and of a somewhat duller greyish
black below. The occipital region, nape, and sides of the neck are clear
grey, forming a sort of collar. The young birds are duller and lack the
grey collar, which is only partially assumed in the first year. Length
13 in.; wing 9·25 in.



                               THE RAVEN
                         Corvus corax, Linnæus


There are few birds that can compare with the Raven in the majestic
curves and sweeps of its flight as it skirts the wild and rugged
headland which forms its home, so that in spite of its occasional
depredations on young and sickly lambs, it is unworthy of the
persecution to which it is subjected. Scattered pairs are still to be
met with round the rocky shores of England, while in the wilder parts of
Scotland and Ireland it is still comparatively common. It chooses for
its home some wild precipitous crag exposed to the fury of the
south-westerly gales, and there it may be found at all times of year,
ruling with uncontested sway some couple of miles of coast, where it
feeds on any carrion or prey that can be found.

Early in the spring the old nest—a mass of sticks, driftwood, seaweed,
and heather, warmly lined with wool and rabbit fleck—will be repaired,
and at this season the male is magnificent to watch as he courts his
mate in beautiful aerial flight. Early in March the eggs, three to five
in number, are laid; they are bluish, densely speckled and blotched with
olive brown. The female takes sole charge of the duties of incubation,
while her mate, sitting near, keeps close watch and attacks with great
boldness and fury any other feathered marauder.

Too often, however, their labours are in vain and man steps in and
destroys the nest; but ever faithful to the old home, many pairs
continue ineffectually to breed year after year near the same spot, till
at last in their old age they succumb to some winter’s storm and the
spot is the poorer by the loss of one of our noblest birds.

After the young are fledged they remain with their parents for some
months, till they are eventually driven out to make way for the new
brood of the following year.

The adult is of a deep, glossy, blue black. The female and young only
differ from the male in having less lustre on their plumage. Length 25
in.; wing 17 in.



                            THE CARRION CROW
                         Corvus corone, Linnæus


With every man’s hand against it, the Carrion Crow, which as a scavenger
might well be one of our most useful birds, leads a harassed existence.
Singly or in pairs it wanders about the country, feeding on anything
that comes in its way. Carrion is its chief delight, but in default of
that it turns its attention to weak and sickly birds, mice, rats, etc.,
and, as is the case with other members of the Crow family, it does quite
as much good by destroying vermin as it does harm by destroying eggs and
young birds.

The nest is generally placed on the top of some high tree or on the
ledge of a cliff. It is made of sticks with an inner foundation of mud
and warmly lined with wool, bents, rabbit fleck, and hair. The eggs,
three to five in number, are very variable in markings, but except in
size resemble those of the Raven. For a short time after the young are
fledged they wander about in family parties, but they soon separate, and
after August more than a pair are seldom seen together, a fact which
will help to distinguish it at a distance from the Rook, who is nearly
always gregarious. In general appearance this bird is very like the
Rook, but it may be distinguished by the following characters. The bill
is much stouter and broader and not so long and slender; its colour is
black with a greenish gloss and not of a purplish blue, and the feathers
have white bases, while those of the Rook are grey; the bristles and
feathers at the base of the bill are never worn away as is always the
case with Rooks after their second moult. Length 19·5 in.; wing 13 in.
In this country it is generally distributed where not too strongly
persecuted, becoming commoner in Scotland; but in Ireland it is very
rare.



                            THE HOODED CROW
                         Corvus cornix, Linnæus


The question as to whether this bird, which interbreeds freely with the
Carrion Crow where their ranges overlap, is or is not a good species
need not trouble us here. Suffice it to say that in England it occurs
numerously as a regular winter immigrant, large numbers crossing the
North Sea and arriving on our eastern coasts. Over the rest of our
islands its distribution is somewhat capricious. In Wales and the
western counties it is rare, whereas in Ireland and Scotland it is well
distributed and resident.

In habits it resembles the Carrion Crow but is more found on the
sea-shore and estuaries than that species, though it is also found in
the wooded districts. The back, shoulder, breast, and under parts are
ashy grey, the rest of the body being black as in the Carrion Crow, of
which in size and all other respects it is the exact counterpart.



                                THE ROOK
                       Corvus frugilegus, Linnæus


There is no more delightful sound in early spring than the “caw” of the
Rooks at their “rookeries,” as their breeding places are called. Year
after year they return regularly to the same clump of trees, on the tops
of which they build a fairly substantial nest of sticks, with an inner
foundation of mud which is in turn warmly lined with roots, straw, and
fine grass. The sites chosen for their homes are more frequently than
not near human habitations or on clumps of trees near a highway, and
exceptionally, they may choose pollards or low bushes, but as a rule the
nests are never less than twenty feet from the ground. The eggs are
bluish, with olive brown spots and blotches resembling those of the
Carrion Crow, but smaller and more variable.

The young leave the nest just before they can fly, and may then be seen
sitting on the topmost branches of the trees as they sway in the wind.
This is the time when they are shot for rook-pies, and also under the
impression that if they are not thinned out the colony will be deserted.
For this belief we are not aware that any proof exists, but curiously
enough colonies left to themselves tend to diminish. These birds are
rather capricious and will occasionally, even in the nesting season,
desert the colony; the presence in the neighbourhood of a pair of
Carrion Crows is sometimes the cause, but more often than not the reason
is not apparent. As soon as the young can fly, towards the middle or end
of May, the rookery is deserted: old and young keep together and wander
about the fields and arable land, digging deeply with their powerful
bills in search of larvæ and grubs, and destroying countless numbers of
wire worms, that renowned pest to agriculture. In this country it does
not migrate to any extent; certain plantations are used as regular
roosting-places, and as evening draws on in the winter months, long
strings of these birds may be seen slowly flying in their heavy
characteristic manner to their nightly shelter. Although the flight
appears heavy and laboured, they in reality travel at no mean pace, and
in their daily search for food often cover great distances. As in the
case of Jackdaws and Jays, there is a large immigration yearly on our
east coast during October and November, for in Scandinavia and the
northern portions of its breeding range it is a regular migrant.
Throughout the whole of our islands it is a common bird, but is rather
more local in Scotland, and it is only of recent years that it has
regularly bred in the extreme north. From continual digging in the
ground the feather follicles round the base of the bill become
destroyed, leaving a whitish patch of bare skin which is an unfailing
characteristic of the adult birds. In young individuals, however, the
feathers extend to the base of the bill and do not appear to be
permanently lost till during the second autumn moult. The sexes are
alike; their colour is a uniform deep and glossy purplish blue. The
young resemble their parents, but lack the gloss to their feathers.
Length 19 in.; wing 12·65 in.

                [Illustration: ROOK
                _Corvus frugilegus_
                Adult (right). Young (left)]



                              THE SKYLARK
                        Alauda arvensis, Linnæus


Of all other birds the Lark is perhaps the one which typifies most
thoroughly the freedom of life, and brings to our minds scenes of wide
open country, where, bright, free, and unrestrained, he pours forth his
song in the boundless expanse of the air.

Hatched in a neat nest of bents and dry grass lined with finer materials
and placed on the ground in the middle of an open field, the youthful
Lark has early to contend with enemies. Mice and other ground vermin, or
the heavy foot of some grazing cattle, frequently destroy the nest and
its contents, and the fact that so many escape must be largely ascribed
to good luck.

His food is of a very varied nature and nothing comes amiss. The young
are fed exclusively on insects, but after leaving the nest they spend
their time eagerly feeding on seeds, berries, or anything that comes
their way. As summer wanes, giving place to autumn, they collect in
large flocks and seek the stubble fields, where the scattered grain
gives them abundant nourishment, and on which they become very fat. It
is at such times, while they are asleep by night, that they are netted
by hundreds for the market. This form of catching can, however, only be
successfully carried out shortly after dark on the blackest of nights,
for, like all wild animals, they seem to rest with one eye open, and
should there be the faintest glimmer of light they will be up and away
long before the bird-catcher is near them. In October they become
restless, and many wander to the coast, and thence to other countries,
their place being taken by the inhabitants of more northerly climates.
So the months pass, until a northerly gale and severe frost moves even
these hardy northerners, and at such times they may be seen migrating in
millions (for they travel almost entirely by day), relentlessly pursuing
a southerly course in front of the biting norther. With a change of wind
and temperature a large number will drift back again, but the movement
will not be so noticeable, and thus they pass their lives, wandering
wherever the weather and food may dictate, till in the very early days
of spring, or even on fine days throughout the winter, we may hear their
voluble song, breathing as it does the joy of freedom in every note.
This is almost always uttered on the wing. Springing from the ground
with rapid, fluttering wings, he rises perpendicularly higher and higher
till he is almost lost to sight in the clouds, though his song still
drifts down to us with unaffected clearness; higher and higher he goes,
and then in a spiral curve he slowly descends, the song ceasing as he
reaches a spot within a few feet of where he rose.

Nest-building is begun in April, and several broods are reared in a
season, the song being continued except when he is actually feeding
young in the nest.

The adult has the general plumage of a warm brownish tint, mottled and
streaked with a darker shade. There is a light-coloured superciliary
streak. The chin, throat, and upper breast and flanks are brownish buff
streaked with brown, rest of under parts yellowish white. The sexes are
alike in plumage but the female is rather smaller. Bird-catchers measure
them from tip to tip of the expanded wings, rejecting those which are
under one foot, as females. The young have the chin and throat
unspotted, and have pale edgings to the feathers of the upper parts.
Length about 7 in.; wing (of male) 4 to 5 in.

                [Illustration: SKYLARK
                _Alauda arvensis_
                Adult (left). Young (right)]



                             THE WOOD LARK
                        Alauda arborea, Linnæus


The Wood Lark is a much rarer bird than the Skylark, and very local in
distribution. Rows of trees bordering open fields are the localities
chiefly favoured by this species, which, except that it frequently
perches, and may often be heard singing from the topmost branch of a
tree, much resembles its commoner congener in habits. It feeds almost
entirely on the ground, living chiefly on insects. The nest is placed a
few yards from the hedge and composed of bents and grass, with a lining
of finer materials. The eggs, usually four in number, are of a creamy
ground colour, very thickly freckled with reddish brown markings. This
species may be most easily distinguished by its song, which is much
sweeter and fuller in tone than that of the preceding bird, but lacks
the power and exuberance. When rising from the ground to sing, it always
does so in a wide spiral curve, differing in that respect also from the
Skylark, which rises straight.

The sexes are alike in plumage and resemble the Skylark, but it is a
smaller bird and has a short hind toe and is more heavily streaked on
the back. Length 6 in.; wing 3·6 in.



                            THE CRESTED LARK
                        Alauda cristata, Linnæus


The Crested Lark is a common species on the Continent, even as close to
our shores as the north of France, but very few examples have been known
to stray to this country. It is not gregarious like the Common Skylark,
and the song is not usually uttered on the wing, but in food and other
habits it does not differ much from our well-known species.

In general colour this species is much duller, and the beak is longer
and stouter than the Skylark, but its chief characteristics are the long
pointed crest, the large bastard primary, and the absence of white on
the tail. Length 6·75 in.; wing 4·1 in.



                          THE SHORT-TOED LARK
                     Alauda brachydactyla, Leisler


This bird is a resident, or partial migrant, throughout the whole of
Southern Europe, but it has been known to occur in Northern Germany,
Belgium, and the north of France. In Great Britain about half-a-dozen
examples have been taken at various times in the south and east.

Very similar in appearance to other Larks, but, as its name indicates,
the hind claw is short. The under parts are white and unspotted except
for a few streaks on the sides of the neck. Length 5·5 in.; wing 3·4 in.



                         THE WHITE-WINGED LARK
                     Alauda sibirica, J. F. Gmelin


This species breeds across Central Russia and through the Kirghiz
steppes as far as the Altai, migrating southwards in winter. Has only
once occurred in England. The bill is short and stout, and this species
may be at once recognised by the white inner primaries and secondaries,
which form a conspicuous patch. Length 7·5 in.; wing 4·6 in.



                             THE BLACK LARK
                  Melanocorypha yeltoniensis (Forster)


This species inhabits South Russia, Transcaspia, and Western Siberia. In
the winter of 1906 a small flock, consisting of both males and females,
arrived in Sussex, being presumably driven westwards owing to the
severity of the weather.

The male has the entire plumage jet black, but in winter this colour is
largely obscured by broad sandy margins to the feathers. The female is
pale sandy brown with darker markings, under parts white, spotted on the
throat and breast. Length about 7·7 in.; wing 5·3 in.



                               SHORE LARK
                      Otocorys alpestris (Linnæus)


A very different bird is this from the other Larks with which we have
been dealing. He is seldom seen in this country, and then only in small
numbers and at irregular periods.

The wide tundras of the North form his home, and there he may be found
plentifully, but as the long Arctic day gives way to the cold black
night, he reluctantly retires and passes the winter in the temperate
portions of the northern hemisphere. In these islands we are just on the
fringe of his wanderings, and almost every year a few stragglers put in
an appearance on our eastern coast in autumn; their visits are of but
short duration, and as a rule they quickly pass away southwards. With
very severe weather on the Continent, however, they may appear in some
numbers towards midwinter, and at such times remain with us till at the
first sign of coming spring they are off again to their dearly loved
home in the North.

General colour above pale sandy brown, tinged with rufous on the back of
the head and nape. Forehead and a superciliary stripe white; a band
across the head, lores, cheeks, and a triangular band across the chest,
black; rest of under parts white, inclined to rufous on the breast and
flanks. The female is smaller and duller. Length about 7 in.; wing 4·4
in.



                               THE SWIFT
                        Cypselus apus (Linnæus)


The causes that govern the migratory movements of birds are still
unknown. Some species are doubtless impelled by stress of weather or
lack of food to seek other quarters, but what power can it be that
brings the Swift thousands of miles from another continent to lay its
eggs and rear its young, and then precipitately to retire again when the
flies on which they feed are most abundant, and the warmest month of the
year has hardly begun? It is one of the last of the summer birds to
arrive, May being generally well advanced before we hear its harsh yet
pleasant scream of “swee ree,” as it swerves in rapid flight round the
cottage or belfry which is to form its summer home.

This species is the most aerial of all our native birds, and is never
seen to settle except when entering the hole under the eaves where it
nests, and, in fact, owing to the length of its wing and shortness of
its legs, it cannot raise itself from a level surface should it once
settle.

Gregarious in its habits, it returns yearly to the same place, and,
entering through a hole or crevice under the eaves, nests there in
security. Swifts, as a family, differ from all other birds in using a
sticky, mucous saliva, with which to bind together rough bits of straw,
cobwebs, feathers, etc., which form their nest. The nests of certain
foreign species are formed entirely of this saliva, and such nests are
eaten with great relish and in large quantities by the Chinese. With our
species, however, the amount of saliva used is comparatively small; it
does not often collect material for its nest, but makes use of the
accumulation of rubbish usually found under roofs, and, hollowing out a
shallow depression, cements it into a permanent cup. Two or three dull,
oblong, white eggs form the clutch. The young when first hatched are
naked; they stay in the nest a long time, not leaving it until fully
fledged. When, however, they leave their home and drop into the air for
the first time, they fly off at once and appear as much at home on the
wing as their parents. For a few days they return to the nest to rest,
and then a week or two after they are fledged, about the beginning of
August, they leave us for their tropical winter home. These birds
occasionally perform curious aerial evolutions on warm summer nights. As
darkness comes on they become very restless, screaming round the tower
or belfry as they dash by in wide circles; gradually they rise higher
and higher in the air till they become mere specks, and are finally lost
in the darkness.

Here again our ignorance comes in and our story must end. Observers have
sat up in vain till two or three in the morning, awaiting their return.
Not one has reappeared, and yet the next day they will all be seen back
again, apparently unwearied by their restless night, but rather enjoying
to the full the marvellous powers of flight which they have inherited.

The sexes and young are alike in plumage and are of a uniformly dark
sooty brown, the chin and throat being dull white. The tail is short and
slightly forked; wings very long and narrow. The feet are extremely
feeble, the four toes all directed forward and having sharp, recurved
nails, which enable them to cling to perpendicular surfaces. Length 6·5
in.; wing 6·8 in. It is generally abundantly distributed throughout our
islands, but becomes scarcer in the North. It winters in Africa.

                [Illustration: COMMON SWIFT
                _Cypselus apus_]



                            THE ALPINE SWIFT
                        Cypselus melba, Linnæus


This is a much larger species than our common Swift and has only visited
these islands on very rare occasions, almost all the examples obtained
having been taken in the south of England. It breeds in the high
mountain ranges of Central and Southern Europe, and winters in Africa.
From our common species it may be distinguished by its larger size,
browner colour, and light under parts. Length 8 in.; wing 8·45 in.


Another species, the Needle-tailed Swift (_Acanthyllis caudacuta_) has
occurred on two occasions in England. It breeds in Central Asia,
migrating in winter to Australia, and except for these two instances is
unrecorded from Europe.



                              THE NIGHTJAR
                     Caprimulgus europæus (Linnæus)


Arriving, the latest of all our migrants, towards the middle of May, and
leaving again early in September, this strange bird is but little known
to the majority of people, although by no means uncommon in suitable
localities.

Its favourite haunts are gorse commons, and moorlands on the edge of
woods, especially where bracken grows freely, and in such situations it
may be found throughout our islands. The best time to see it is at dusk,
when it comes out to capture moths, beetles, and other crepuscular
insects which form its chief sustenance. Its flight is silent and very
bat-like, twisting and turning with great ease and agility, now and
again striking its wings together with a loud clap and uttering at the
same time a sharp little whistle. When resting on a branch, which it
invariably does lengthways, a curious reeling note or vibrating “churr”
is uttered.

No nest is made, but the two white eggs, boldly blotched and mottled
with brown and lilac, are laid on the bare ground without any attempt at
concealment. The bird sits very closely, and her dull greyish plumage so
assimilates with her surroundings that it is almost impossible to see
her until she rises and circles round, uttering a harsh “chuck, chuck.”

The young, when first hatched, are covered with an ashy grey down, and
have, even at this tender age, the large mouth with enormous gape,
characteristic of this family. They do not remain in the nest till
fledged, but crawl about on the ground. They do not, however, attempt to
feed themselves, and are carefully tended by their parents till they are
well able to fly, when they at once quit this country to winter in
tropical Africa.

The plumage of both sexes is nearly alike, and is ashy grey, streaked
and spotted irregularly with brown. The male has a white spot near the
centre of each of the three outer primaries, and the two outermost pairs
of tail feathers are tipped with white. These white markings are absent
in the female. The young practically resemble the female Length 10·5
in.; wing 7·55.


One example each of two other species of this family, the Red-necked
Nightjar (_Caprimulgus ruficollis_) and the Egyptian Nightjar
(_Caprimulgus ægyptius_) have been taken in England. The first named is
a native of Southern Spain and North Africa as far east as Tunisia; the
breeding-quarters of the other are in South-east Europe, Egypt, Nubia,
and Tunisia. In general appearance they both closely resemble our common
species; the Red-throated may, however, be recognised by the tawny
collar encircling the head, and the Egyptian by the inner webs of the
primaries being pure white.



                              THE WRYNECK
                        Iynx torquilla, Linnæus


Under the name of the “Cuckoo’s Mate” this species is well known in our
southern and south-eastern counties. Elsewhere in England it is rare or
local, and in Scotland and Ireland it is of very irregular occurrence.
The name “Cuckoo’s Mate” is derived from the fact that its arrival
usually coincides pretty closely with that of the Cuckoo, namely during
the first week in April, but in other respects it has no connection in
habits or distribution with the better-known species. Owing to its dull
and unobtrusive plumage, and more especially from its custom of
inhabiting gardens and woods, it is not easy to see, though to those who
know its note, which is a sharp “qui, qui, qui,” its presence will be
frequently made known. It feeds chiefly on ants, which it searches for
on the ground or on tree-trunks. These are rapidly conveyed to its mouth
by a quick motion of its long extensile tongue, which is coated with a
sticky mucus, and the rate at which this organ is shot forwards and
backwards is almost incredible, and reminds one rather of the tongue in
the chameleons and some other lizards. It breeds in the hole of a tree,
and the six round white eggs are laid on the wood itself without any
attempt at a nest. If the hole be visited during incubation the sitting
bird will utter a peculiar hissing noise, and at the same time twist her
neck in a most surprising manner. This habit, which is well calculated
to make the observer believe the hole to be tenanted by a snake, has
given rise to the name of “Snake-bird” as well as the better-known one
of Wryneck. The sexes are alike in plumage, the general colour being
greyish with dark streaks of brownish black on the nape and scapulars.
Throat, upper breast, and flanks yellowish, becoming paler on the belly,
with narrow black bars and arrow markings. The young are greyer, and
have no yellow or arrow-shaped markings on the under parts. Length 7
in.; wing 3·4 in.

Towards the end of September it takes its departure, but some
individuals frequently remain much later, and probably occasionally
spend the winter with us.

                [Illustration: WRYNECK
                _Iynx torquilla_]



                          THE GREEN WOODPECKER
                       Gecinus viridis (Linnæus)


The cheery “pleu, pleu, pleu” of the Yaffle as it flies from one tree to
another may be heard in most parts of England and Wales, though in
Scotland and Ireland it is almost unknown. It is a moderate-sized and
somewhat ungainly bird in its actions, spending its life among trees,
though it by no means restricts itself to woods, especially in autumn,
when it may frequently be seen ascending some hedgerow tree, with its
characteristic jerking motion, the stiff and pointed tail feathers
aiding it to cling to the trunk. Its food consists of insects, more
especially beetles and ants, which it finds in crevices of the bark, but
it often descends to the ground in search of food.

Its flight is direct and undulating, and it proceeds by a series of
rapid wing-beats followed by a short falling period, when the wings are
half closed. On the ground it progresses by short hops, and when
searching a tree for food, it ascends spirally from the base in short
jerks, flying off when near the top to recommence its search at the base
of another. Early in April it begins to excavate a nesting-hole,
choosing for preference a tree destitute of lower branches. A neat
circular hole is chiselled out, which is carried in horizontally for
some distance, and then turns downwards. No special nest is made, the
glossy white eggs, about five in number, being laid on the bare wood.

The young remain in the nest till they are full fledged, and then
scatter to earn their own living.

The general colour of the male is olive green, shading into yellow on
the rump and becoming greyer on the under parts. The crown and nape are
crimson, and there is a malar stripe of the same colour edged with
black. The female has less crimson on the head and the malar stripes are
black. The young are mottled on the back and spotted on the under parts
with blackish. Length 12·5 in.; wing 6·4 in.



                     THE GREATER SPOTTED WOODPECKER
                      Dendrocopus major (Linnæus)


Although it can nowhere be called abundant, this species is widely
distributed in well-wooded districts as far north as Durham, but in
Scotland it is a scarce bird, only nesting very sparingly in the south,
and in Ireland it is almost unknown. A quiet and shy bird, it is rarely
seen, keeping as it does to the higher branches of tall trees, and when
possible keeping the trunk between it and any would-be observer. In its
food and habits it resembles the Green Woodpecker, though it is
comparatively seldom seen on the ground. The call-note is a sharp, short
“chik,” but it makes also a peculiar rattling sound by rapping its beak
against a bough. This sound, which is more often heard in early spring,
has been supposed to be made only at that season, but it may also be
heard, though less frequently, at other times of the year.

                [Illustration: GREATER SPOTTED WOODPECKER
                _Dendrocopus major_
                Male (right). Female (centre). Young (left)]

In winter this species is much given to wandering, and every autumn our
local birds receive further additions from Scandinavia. It can hardly,
however, be considered a regular winter visitor, as such immigrations
are largely dependent on the season, and it is only at irregular periods
that really large numbers arrive.

The upper parts of the male are chiefly black; the forehead, cheeks, ear
coverts, and scapulars are white; nape crimson; wing feathers black,
barred with white on the outer webs; under parts whitish; vent crimson.
The female lacks the red on the head, but the young of _both_ sexes have
the crown red. Length 9·4 in.; wing 5·5 in.



                       LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER
                      Dendrocopus minor (Linnæus)


In many well-wooded localities in the south, the Lesser Spotted
Woodpecker may be almost considered common, though from its small size
and partiality to the topmost branches of tall trees, it is but seldom
seen. In Wales and north of the Midlands it becomes extremely local, and
in Scotland and Ireland it has only been obtained as a rare straggler on
a few isolated occasions. In food and habits it hardly differs from its
larger congener, but the nest is generally hewn out in some _dead_ tree.
It has not occurred on migration. The male has the upper parts chiefly
black, barred with white; the forehead buff; crown of the head crimson;
nape and malar stripe black; cheeks white. The under parts are buffish
white with black streaks on the flanks. The female has only got a little
red on the fore part of the head. Length 6 in.; wing 3·7 in.



                             THE KINGFISHER
                         Alcedo ispida, Linnæus


In spite of the ease with which he may be caught, and the demand for his
skin brought about by his fatal beauty, we are still able to reckon the
Kingfisher as a generally distributed species.

Representative of a family which is essentially associated with tropical
climes, he still wears his brilliant dress in these northern latitudes,
and resembles, as he darts with rapid flight down our rivers and
streams, some huge turquoise.

Having fixed on a favourite piece of water, he seldom wanders far
afield, but may be seen at all times of the year, sitting on an
overhanging bough, ever and anon dropping into the water to seize some
passing fish. His prey being captured, he returns to his perch and kills
the struggling fish by knocking it against his stand; it is then
swallowed head first, and he resumes his motionless watch. If sport be
slow, and he be hungry, he will wend his way with rapid flight down the
river to try his luck in another place, and it is at such times that we
shall probably get a momentary glimpse of his brilliancy, till a curve
in the stream hides him from sight.

                [Illustration: KINGFISHER
                _Alcedo ispida_]

Mere cold does not seem to affect him in the least, but when the streams
are frozen he suffers greatly from hunger, and after a day or two of
frosty weather he reluctantly leaves his accustomed home for the milder
reaches of the sea-shore, where the restless tide brings him in a
continual supply of food. The sea-shore, however, is not to his taste,
and at the first break-up of the frost he returns again to his
inhospitable home. Early in April he turns his attention to
housekeeping. Like most bright-plumaged birds, he has no song with which
to woo his mate, but at such times they may often be seen chasing each
other about up and down the stream, uttering their shrill and sharp
call-note. A perpendicular wall in the bank of the river is chosen, and
near the top of this they excavate a long low tunnel with the end
slightly widened out to form a chamber. The nest is peculiar, being
formed of a mass of small regurgitated bones, and on this the six pure
white and highly glossed eggs are laid. As soon as the young are fledged
and thoroughly able to earn their own living, they are driven away from
their home and forced to seek winter-quarters elsewhere. Many,
especially in the northern portions of its range, go to the sea-shore
and migrate, while others seek out some quiet stream where they may fish
in undisputed possession, till the return of spring impels them to seek
a mate and form a home for themselves. The sexes are practically alike
in plumage. The top of the head, wings, and malar stripe are dark
greenish blue, mottled with lighter; back and rump brilliant cobalt
blue; tail dark blue. The under parts, lores, and ear coverts are
chestnut; throat whitish; bill black, orange at the base; legs deep red.
The young bird is duller and shows traces of greenish on the breast.
Length 7·5 in.; wing 3 in.



                               THE ROLLER
                       Coracias garrulus, Linnæus


Although stragglers of this beautiful and brilliant species have
frequently visited this country in both the spring and autumn
migrations, it can by no means be considered as a regular visitor to our
shores. It is very numerous in Southern Europe and breeds as far north
as St. Petersburg and certain parts of Sweden; in the countries
bordering the North Sea, however, it is decidedly rare. In winter it
inhabits the southern portion of Africa, being numerous in Cape Colony
and Natal.

The sexes are alike. The head, neck, and under parts are of a brilliant
greenish blue, the mantle is brown, and there is a patch of gorgeous
ultramarine blue on the lesser wing coverts. Length 12 in.; wing 7·7 in.



                             THE BEE-EATER
                        Merops apiaster, Linnæus


A good many stragglers of this southern species have occurred from time
to time, chiefly in the southern half of England, but a few have also
been taken in Scotland and Ireland. In Southern Europe it is extremely
abundant throughout the summer, wintering in Africa. The sexes are
alike. The head, neck, upper back, and a bar across the secondaries are
chestnut brown; forehead white, turning to green; lores and ear coverts
black; tail green, two central feathers elongated and tipped with black.
Throat yellow; a black band across the lower neck; under parts greenish
blue. Length 11·25 in.; wing 6 in.



                                 HOOPOE
                          Upupa epops, Linnæus


In the spring of every year, with unfailing regularity, a few misguided
individuals of this interesting bird seek the hospitality of our shores,
and, were they unmolested, would eventually settle as one of our
permanent summer visitors in the southern counties. Unfortunately, apart
from its striking plumage, which cannot fail to arrest attention, it is
of a very confiding nature, stalking about lawns and grass fields with
its peculiar walk, while it prods the ground with its long bill in
search of grubs and insects. Such a sight is too much for the so-called
collector or ignorant loafer, whose only idea on seeing a strange bird
is to kill it, and thus it happens that our would-be guest either
reposes as a fearful caricature in a glass case till moth and rust have
done their work, or is frightened off to some other country where his
appearance excites less curiosity and murder. From time to time,
however, protected by some enlightened farmer or landowner, this species
has been spared to pass the summer unmolested, and, choosing a hollow
tree, preferably in an orchard or near some open grass fields, has
reared a young brood to maturity and finally departed in peace to spend
the winter in Southern Europe or Africa.

The nest is placed in a hole in some tree, and the eggs, seven in
number, are of a uniform pale greenish blue.

General colour of the head, mantle, and under parts pale cinnamon; wings
and tail black, broadly barred with white. Lower back broadly barred
with black, white, and buff. The sexes and young resemble each other in
plumage. Length 12·2 in.; bill 2·5 in.; wing 6 in.



                               THE CUCKOO
                        Cuculus canorus, Linnæus


The arrival of the Cuckoo, as heralded by his well-known note, is
eagerly awaited by every one who lives in the country, ornithologist or
otherwise, and so anxious are some to record his arrival, that they
persuade themselves that they have heard him before the March winds have
abated. There is little doubt, however, that this species rarely, if
ever, arrives in March, and not before mid-April can his pleasing note
be generally heard. Throughout the whole of our islands this bird is
common and well known, inhabiting equally the wild open country, the
enclosed arable land, or thickly-wooded estates. It feeds entirely on
insects, especially caterpillars, those of the common Tiger-moth being
an especially favourite delicacy. Its flight is direct and fairly rapid,
the short wings and long tail giving it very much the appearance of a
Sparrow-Hawk, for which it is frequently mistaken by the smaller birds,
and mobbed accordingly.

                [Illustration: CUCKOO
                _Cuculus canorus_
                Adult (below). Young (above)]

This bird solves housekeeping difficulties in the simplest way by
leaving its eggs to the tender mercies of other species. It apparently
usually watches other birds when building, and as soon as the chosen
nest contains a few eggs, it lays its own egg on the ground, and picking
it up in its beak deposits it in the nest, throwing out at the same time
a few of the rightful eggs. The eggs are, as a rule, deposited one by
one in a different nest of the same species, and when two Cuckoo’s eggs
are found in the same nest, they are almost assuredly the produce of two
different birds. Having deposited its eggs, the mother Cuckoo takes no
further interest in her progeny, but continues to lead a life of
leisure, till early in August both sexes leave us for their southern
winter-quarters. The eggs of this species are extremely variable, but as
a rule are of a pale bluish or greenish ground colour, with reddish
spots and mottlings; sometimes they agree so closely with the eggs of
their foster-parents as to be almost indistinguishable, but such cases
are exceptional. When the young Cuckoo has been hatched about
twenty-four hours, he sets to work to eject the other nestlings by
getting them on his back, in which there is a hollow, and pushing them
over the side of the nest. He is most importunate in his demands for
food, and continues to be a burden on the foster-parents long after he
is able to feed himself. Once, however, he is fledged, he wings his way
southwards and we see him no more, till he returns the following spring
to gladden us with his cheering “cuckoo.” Various species of
insectivorous birds are made use of as foster-parents, and there is no
doubt that much discrimination is exercised by the mother Cuckoo as to
where and when to deposit her egg. The nests most favoured in this
country are those of the Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Hedge Sparrow,
Sedge and Reed Warblers, but over sixty different species of British
Birds have been made use of at various times. Practically nothing is
known as to whether Cuckoos pair, or if the female receives the
attentions of several males, and the number of eggs laid by a single
bird in the season is also doubtful, though about eight is said to be
the number. Many interesting problems are thus still unsolved about one
of our commonest birds, and if his character be not a very estimable
one, we can but marvel at the workings of evolution which has enabled so
curious and complicated a method of parasitism to be sufficiently
successful to ensure the perpetuation of the race. It must be remembered
that for the successful rearing of each young Cuckoo the mother has to
find and recognise the nest of an insectivorous bird, and to lay her egg
during the five days in which the foster-parent elect is laying her
clutch. As regards the various stages of evolution that have caused the
young Cuckoo to evolve as a murderer at his birth, and that have
provided him with the means in the shape of a special hollow in his
back, we know nothing, and can in the present state of our knowledge
merely leave the problem in wonder and amazement.

The male is clear greyish ash on the back and throat; tail feathers
blackish with small white spots on the margin. Under parts whitish, with
dark bars on the flanks. The young vary considerably and are generally
dark brown, more or less barred with rufous on the upper parts. Length
13 in.; wing 8·5 in.



                        THE GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO
                     Coccystes glandarius (Linnæus)


On three or four occasions this bird has been obtained in England and
Ireland. It is a native of North Africa and South Spain, where it
breeds, migrating in winter to South Africa. Its eggs are almost always
deposited in the nest of a Magpie, but other members of the Crow family
are sometimes chosen. The general colour is greyish brown, most of the
feathers tipped with white; under parts white. The crown is grey, with
long pointed crest. Length 15·5 in.; wing 8 in.



                   THE AMERICAN YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO
                     Coccyzus americanus (Linnæus)


Some half-dozen examples of this American species have occurred on our
western shores during the autumn migration. It is about the size of our
Cuckoo, olive-brown above, and buffish white below. Each of the tail
feathers are tipped with white. Length 11 in.; tail 6 in.; wing 5·40 in.



                              THE BARN OWL
                         Strix flammea, Linnæus


After many years’ patient preaching, the Barn Owl is at last beginning
to be recognised as a friend to be encouraged, rather than as an enemy
to be slain, and it is now on the increase throughout England, Wales,
and Ireland. In Scotland it has always been local in the south and rare
in the north.

The species is strictly nocturnal, and darkness has usually fallen
before it sallies forth from its hiding-place in a barn, an old church
tower, or a hollow tree.

It feeds almost entirely on rats, mice, and such small deer, and rarely
takes any small birds, as they are always securely roosting by the time
the Barn Owl comes out. From its habits of choosing barns and old
buildings, this species more than any other is deserving of man’s
protection, since its favourite hunting-grounds are round the
farm-yards, where it destroys those vermin that are of most immediate
nuisance to the farmer.

The note is a harsh high-pitched scream, which has earned for it the
name of “Screech Owl,” but when in its hole it makes a heavy snoring
sound, and has also a curious habit of waving its head from side to
side. When seen from above down a dark hole, the motion being just dimly
visible, it has a very uncanny appearance.

                [Illustration: BARN OWL
                _Strix flammea_]

The eggs, oval in shape and pure white like those of all Owls, are laid
without any attempt at a nest. They are generally laid in clutches of
two, at intervals of some days, so that four or six young of varying
ages are generally found in the nest together. Unlike most of the other
Owls, the first plumage of the young is composed of true feathers,
whereas in most of the other species the young are at first clothed,
with the exception of the wings and tail, in a plumage of downy
feathers, which after being worn for a short time is exchanged for the
full plumage.

The general colour above is buffish orange, minutely speckled and
vermiculated with grey. The under parts are white, sometimes slightly
buffish on the chest, and with a few minute black specks. The sexes are
alike, but the female is said to be more speckled on the under parts.
The young resemble the adults. Length 13·5 in.; wing 11·25 in.



                           THE LONG-EARED OWL
                          Asio otus (Linnæus)


Though it is distinctly commoner in Scotland, this species is not rare
in any of the wooded districts of our islands. It is very partial to fir
woods or evergreen plantations, and early in the year takes possession
of an old nest or squirrel’s drey in which to deposit its six white
eggs. The young are chiefly fed on rats and mice, but moths and beetles
are also eaten with relish, while small birds are not despised. The
daytime is spent among the branches of the trees, and when alarmed by
any noise the bird draws itself up and leans against the trunk of the
tree, in which position it may easily be overlooked. It flies out at
dusk and ranges the fields near woods for its prey.

In the northern parts of Scotland it is a regular migrant, but elsewhere
within these islands it is resident, though immigrations from the
Continent occur every year. It is a very silent bird, but occasionally
gives rise to a short mellow bark.

The sexes resemble each other and are buffish, heavily speckled and
vermiculated with dark brown, ashy, and white. The markings of the young
are yellowish, and warmer in tint. The name is derived from two longish
tufts of feathers above the facial disc, which can be erected at will.
Length 14 in.; wing 11·5 in.



                          THE SHORT-EARED OWL
                       Asio accipitrinus (Pallas)


Unlike the preceding species, this bird inhabits fens, marshes, and open
moorlands. In Scotland it nests fairly commonly, but in England it is
decidedly rare and local as a breeding species, while it has never been
known to breed in Ireland.

The nest is placed on the ground, at the foot of a small bush in long
sedge, or among heather. No real nest is made, but a few bits of grass
or heather are arranged round the eggs. These are usually five in
number, and, like all Owls’ eggs, pure white. In some seasons these Owls
become much more abundant in certain places, due generally to a great
increase in their food, which consists almost entirely of field-voles.
In the years when these voles increase to an enormous extent, this
species will also appear nesting in considerable numbers, where it was
almost unknown before, and in such seasons as many as twelve eggs have
been found in a clutch. It is by no means a nocturnal bird but takes its
food by day, and may thus be easily noticed on its approach in a new
locality. The flight is somewhat heavy and uncertain, frequently
twisting about and rolling from side to side.

                [Illustration: LONG-EARED OWL
                _Asio otus_]

In autumn, large immigrations reach this country from abroad, and during
the winter it becomes quite common in suitable places throughout England
and Ireland. He is frequently flushed from the turnip-fields in October,
and is for this reason known in some places as the “Woodcock Owl.”

In plumage it resembles the preceding species, but the markings are
bolder and the delicate grey vermiculations are entirely absent. The ear
tufts are much shorter. Length 14·5 in.; wing 12 in.



                               TAWNY OWL
                        Syrnium aluco (Linnæus)


The Tawny Owl is a common inhabitant of the well-wooded parts of
England, Wales, and Scotland, though in the north of the last-named
country it becomes decidedly scarce and local. In Ireland it has not yet
been obtained. It nests early in March, the eggs being usually placed in
a hollow tree, though it often makes use of deserted nests of Rooks,
Crows, or Hawks, and sometimes nests on the ground at the base of a
tree. The eggs are white and glossy and much rounder in shape than those
of the Barn Owl. It is extremely nocturnal, never appearing till quite
dark, and seldom pursuing its prey in the open, but keeping to glades
and rides in the woods. Its hoot is a loud “hoo hoo,” and is repeated
with great frequency. This species is never met with on migration, but
is one of the most resident of birds, rarely wandering far from its
birthplace.

The sexes are alike, except that the female is slightly larger. The
general colour is usually of a warm tawny brown, mottled and streaked
with darker shades of the same colour; the under parts are pale buffish
white, striped with dark brown. There are two phases of this species
which are alike in markings, but in one the predominating tint is red
and in the other grey. Length 15 in.; wing 10 in.



                             TENGMALM’S OWL
                    Nyctala tengmalmi (J. F. Gmelin)


This species is an inhabitant of the pine forests of Northern Europe,
migrating southwards in winter. A few stragglers have occurred in these
islands from time to time. The general colour above is umber brown,
spotted and marked with white; the facial disk is white with a dark
outer ring; under parts whitish, barred and streaked with brown. Length
9 in.; wing 6·5 in.

                [Illustration: TAWNY OWL
                _Syrnium aluco_]

The plumage of this species is exceptionally thick and downy; the
feathers on the legs and toes especially so.



                             THE LITTLE OWL
                        Athene noctua (Scopoli)


This bird has undoubtedly occurred on many occasions as a straggler in
this country, but its claim as a British Bird now rests on introductions
which have been made in Kent, Northampton, Bedford, Yorkshire, and other
places where it has more or less established itself as a breeding
species, and is slowly extending its range from at least one of these
centres. It is a small species, living chiefly on insects and mice, and
is generally found in well-wooded country, where it may be often seen
sitting on a dead tree or post, sunning itself, for it is largely
diurnal in its habits.

The plumage above is a warm brown spotted with white; under parts white
striped with brown. The female is rather larger than the male. Length
about 9 in.; wing 6 in.

In this species the feathers on the legs and toes are quite short, being
little more than bristles on the latter, a point by which it may be
easily distinguished from the preceding species.



                             THE SNOWY OWL
                       Nyctea scandiaca (Linnæus)


The Arctic regions both in summer and winter form the home of this large
and handsome species, though many wander southwards during the winter
months.

In the Shetlands and Orkneys it is a fairly regular winter visitor
during severe weather, and it has frequently occurred in Scotland; to
England and Ireland, however, its visits are few and far between.

The plumage is pure white, spotted and barred with dark brown, the
amount of which varies greatly in individuals. Length of male 22 in.;
wing 15·5 in. The female is slightly larger.



                              THE HAWK OWL
                        Surnia funerea (Linnæus)


The Hawk Owl inhabits the pine forests of Northern Europe, Siberia, and
North America. It has occurred here as a straggler on several occasions,
the majority of examples having been shot in the western counties of
England and Scotland, and belonging curiously enough to the American
race, which has the bars of the under parts more ruddy than the European
form. This latter form has, however, also been obtained on at least one
occasion.

The upper parts are brown, spotted with white; under parts white barred
with greyish or reddish brown. Its most characteristic feature is the
tail, which is long and graduated, barred and tipped with white. Length
about 15 in.; tail 7·5 in.; wing 9·2 in.



                             THE SCOPS OWL
                          Scops giu (Scopoli)


A migratory species, wintering in Abyssinia and Northern Africa, and
breeding in Southern Europe, the Scops Owl has occurred as a straggler
to our islands a good many times. The general colour is grey, barred and
vermiculated with brown; it has two conspicuous ear tufts. The female
slightly exceeds the male in size. Length, male, 7·5 in.; wing 5·8 in.



                             THE EAGLE OWL
                        Bubo ignavus, T. Forster


This large and fine species has been obtained several times in England
and Scotland, but though some of the instances are undoubtedly those of
genuine wanderers, it is so often kept in captivity that several
occurrences must be looked upon as those of escaped birds.

It is widely distributed throughout the wilder districts of Europe, both
in forest and open country, from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean.

The general colour is dark brown, mottled with brownish buff above, and
yellowish brown streaked with darker below. The female is larger than
the male. Length of male 24 in.; wing 18 in.



                          THE GRIFFON VULTURE
                       Gyps fulvus (J. F. Gmelin)


A single immature example of this species was taken in the spring of
1843, in Cork Harbour. The nearest breeding place of this species is in
the Pyrenees, and thence eastwards it occurs throughout Southern Europe.
The sexes are alike and their general colour is buffish brown; the head
and neck are devoid of feathers but covered with buffish down, which is
separated from the feathers of the neck by a broad ruff. Length 42 in.;
wing 28 in.



                          THE EGYPTIAN VULTURE
                    Neophron percnopterus (Linnæus)


This is another South European species of which two examples have been
obtained, one in Somersetshire and one in Essex.

The adult is white with black primaries, the head and neck being bare of
feathers and yellow in colour. The young bird is dark brown and does not
acquire its full plumage for three years. Length 26 in.; wing 19 in.



                           THE MARSH HARRIER
                      Circus æruginosus (Linnæus)


Formerly this species used to breed regularly in many places in England,
where large stretches of marsh-land suitable to its habits were to be
found. A pair or two may occasionally still try to rear a brood in East
Anglia, but owing to the drainage of the fens, it is no longer known in
any of its former haunts. In Ireland, where it was formerly fairly
common, its breeding area is restricted to one locality. To Scotland it
has always been an extremely rare visitor. On migration small numbers of
this species visit England and Wales yearly. The nest is a fairly
substantial structure, built of reeds and grass, and placed on the
ground. The eggs, which generally number five, are pale bluish white
without any other markings.

In plumage this species varies greatly according to age; the adult male
is dark brown on the back, head creamy white with dark streaks, wing
coverts and tail silvery grey; primaries blackish. Under parts buff
streaked with brown. In the female the tail and under parts are brown.
Young birds are chocolate brown; the entire crown of the head is buffish
white in the males, but in the females the nape only is yellowish.
Length (of males) 21 in.; wing 16 in.



                            THE HEN HARRIER
                        Circus cyaneus (Linnæus)


In England, thanks to the game-preserver, this species is now extremely
scarce, and very few pairs, if any, are allowed to nest. In Scotland and
Ireland, where it was formerly fairly plentiful, it is fast decreasing
in numbers. On migration it is still not uncommon in the north, and the
passage of stragglers through England is of yearly occurrence, but very
few remain to spend the winter in any part of this country. It frequents
large open moorlands, which, like all Harriers, it regularly quarters in
its search for food. This consists of young birds, rats, mice, and frogs
or lizards. The nest is made of roots, heather, and plant stems, and the
eggs are bluish white, often faintly spotted with reddish brown.

The adult male is slate grey with white rump and white under parts, the
throat and breast being bluish grey. The female and young are brown
above with the exception of the rump, which is white; tail brown with
five dark bars, whence the name “Ring Hawk,” which is applied to the
females and young of this species. Length 21 in.; wing 15 in.



                           MONTAGU’S HARRIER
                      Circus cineraceus (Montagu)


Although the commonest of our British Harriers, this species is
nevertheless exceedingly scarce and local. It is a migrant, arriving
towards the middle of April, and in some of the open moorlands and fenny
localities in the south and south-east of England a few pairs yearly
attempt to breed.

The sight of this grand bird, as it quarters the ground backwards and
forwards in search of food, is an exquisite pleasure to the true
naturalist, but in spite of the protection afforded by law, it is
ruthlessly destroyed, either by the gamekeeper or the collector of
British killed specimens, whenever seen. In habits it closely resembles
the Hen Harrier. It nests on the ground, and its bluish white eggs are,
as in the case of that species, often speckled with rusty red.

The upper parts, throat, and breast of the male are slaty grey; the
hinder parts white, streaked with rufous on the flanks. Tail feathers
greyish with five rusty red bars on all except the middle pair. The
female, who is slightly larger than the male, is brown above and buff
streaked with rufous below. The young resemble the female but are much
darker below. Length about 18 in.; wing 15·4 in.

To Scotland and Ireland this bird is only a very rare straggler.



                           THE COMMON BUZZARD
                         Buteo vulgaris, Leach


Years ago this species might fairly have been called common in our
islands, but the gamekeeper, who has much to answer for in the
extirpation of many species, has not failed to wage war on this
beautiful bird. If we still want to see him, as he soars round in
graceful curves over his forest home, we shall have to journey to the
wilder parts of Wales and Scotland, where alone he is still able to hold
his own. Over the rest of our islands he is, as a breeding species, no
longer extant, though every year a few migrants from abroad seek our
hospitality, only to be killed by the first keeper that sees them.

The nest is placed either on a ledge of a cliff or in the fork of a
tree, and is a bulky structure of sticks, lined and surrounded with
fresh leaves, which are continually renewed as they wither. The eggs,
four in number, are bluish white, marked with rusty red near their
larger end. Both sexes incubate, and if the nest be approached, circle
round and round the intruder with piteous “mewing” note. As far as game
birds are concerned, this species is practically harmless, feeding
almost entirely on ground game, frogs, and reptiles, so that no one can
have any excuse for destroying it.

It is a very variable species; the general colour is dark brown above
and below with a whitish band showing longitudinal dark stripes on the
breast, but in some individuals there is very much more white. The young
bird is usually paler on the upper parts. The female only differs from
the male in her slightly larger size. Length about 22 in.; wing 15·5 in.



                        THE ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD
                      Buteo lagopus (J. F. Gmelin)


The Rough-legged Buzzard, which differs from the Common Buzzard in
having the legs feathered to the toes, is a regular autumn migrant to
this country, especially in the north and east of Scotland. In some
years its numbers are much greater than in others, so that for a time it
becomes common even down to the south and east of England. In Ireland it
has only been noticed on a few rare occasions.

It is a common and numerous species on the Continent, breeding within
the limits of the Arctic Circle, and wandering southwards in winter. In
habits and appearance, except for the feathered tarsus, it resembles the
preceding species. Length about 23 in.; wing 17·2 in.



                           THE SPOTTED EAGLE
                     Aquila maculata (J. F. Gmelin)


At long intervals stragglers belonging to this species have been taken
in these islands, all of them during the last three months of the year.

This species is a summer migrant to Central and Southern Europe, from
whence it migrates on the approach of winter to Africa, large numbers
passing down the Nile Valley.

The adult is of a warm brown all over, but the young bird has the
feathers of the upper parts tipped with buff, and the lower parts
striped with ochreous. Length of male 19 in.; the female is slightly
larger.



                            THE GOLDEN EAGLE
                      Aquila chrysaetus (Linnæus)


This magnificent bird has only been preserved to us as a breeding
species owing to the strict protection afforded to the deer in the
Highlands and some of the outlying islands off the west coast of
Scotland. Thanks to this, it is slightly on the increase in some places,
though, as it meets with a speedy death should it trespass over a grouse
moor, it can never become generally common. It is a truly grand bird to
watch as it soars and circles over the few miles of country to which it
claims suzerain rights, and eminently worthy of protection as an object
of natural beauty.

The eyrie, which is resorted to year after year, is placed on the ledge
of a crag or more rarely in a tree. It is a vast accumulation of sticks,
to which additions are made every year, and is lined with tufts of
grass. The eggs, usually two in number, are bluish white, marked to a
greater or lesser extent with reddish brown.

Its food consists chiefly of mountain hares, though it also takes birds,
lambs, and occasionally the fawns of the deer; but although it does
sometimes take grouse, they do not form its chief food, and certainly
the numbers taken are not sufficient to warrant its destruction.

                [Illustration: GOLDEN EAGLE
                _Aquila chrysaetus_]

It does not chase its prey, but having marked them down, pounces on them
as they lie.

In Ireland a few pairs still breed in the wilder parts of the north and
west, but elsewhere in our islands it is very rarely seen, as it is not
given to wandering far from its accustomed haunts. In England it is
exceedingly rare, most of the reported occurrences being immature
examples of the next species.

The general colour is a uniform dark brown, tawny on the nape. Except in
its larger size, the female resembles the male. Young birds may be
distinguished by the white bases to the outer tail feathers. Length
about 23 in.; wing 24 in.



                         THE WHITE-TAILED EAGLE
                     Haliaetus albicilla (Linnæus)


This species, which was never common in any part of our islands, is now
only found as a breeding bird on a very limited number of stations on
the west coast of Ireland and Scotland. In autumn immature birds are
frequently observed round our English coasts on their southward
migration.

The nest is placed usually on an inaccessible crag by the sea-shore, and
is a vast accumulation of sticks and rubbish, which is yearly augmented.
The eggs are two in number and dull white without any markings. The
habits and food are similar to the Golden Eagle, but it occasionally
takes fish, and feeds more readily on carrion.

Old birds are dark brown with nearly white head and neck and white tail.
Immature birds are brown mottled with fulvous on the upper parts and
with a brown tail.

This species takes about five years to become adult, and all varieties
between these two plumages may be met with. Length about 34 in.; wing 25
in.



                              THE GOSHAWK
                      Astur palumbarius (Linnæus)


This species is common throughout the wooded districts of Northern and
Central Europe, and has only occurred in these islands at long
intervals, almost always on the east coast of Scotland or England. In
Ireland it is practically unknown.

In olden times falconers (for this species was in great demand for
hawking) used to liberate adults in the spring in order to procure the
young when they nested, and in this manner there is no doubt that it
became established for several centuries, but it is now over a hundred
years since the last English-bred nestling was obtained.

It inhabits wooded districts, and seizes its prey, which consists of
both mammals and birds, on the ground.

The adult is brown on the back; the under parts are white barred with
dull black. The young is brown above and buff striped with dark brown
below.

Length 20 in.; wing 12 in. The female is slightly larger.



                            THE SPARROW-HAWK
                       Accipiter nisus (Linnæus)


Numerous and abundant throughout our woodland districts, it must be
confessed that this species, especially when rearing its young, does
undoubtedly considerable damage among the pheasant coops, and there is
less to be said in favour of this bird than is the case with most of the
other birds destroyed by the game-preserver.

Inhabiting woods, it is not so often seen as the wind-hovering Kestrel,
nor is its flight powerful. When hunting, it flies low along a hedgerow
or the outskirts of a wood, pouncing suddenly upon any hapless bird that
may dart out in front of it. Birds form its principal prey, but it will
also take mice, moles, or any other living thing which comes under its
notice.

A substantial nest of sticks is built high up in some fir or evergreen.
A former nest is often used, sometimes after a lapse of several years.
The eggs are extremely handsome, being pale blue with very bold
mottlings and markings of deep reddish brown. The same coppice is
resorted to yearly, although one of the parents may be shot on the nest
and the young destroyed.

The adult male, which is much smaller than the female, is slate blue on
the upper parts, with rufous on the cheeks and ear coverts. The under
parts are pale buff, barred with reddish brown, some individuals being
much redder than others. The female is brown on the back and the under
parts are whitish, barred with brown. The young, except in size,
resemble the female, but the under parts are striped instead of barred.

This species is, however, extremely variable in colour and markings.
Length of male 13 in.; wing 7·7 in. Female 15·4 in.; wing 9 in.



                                THE KITE
                        Milvus ictinus, Savigny


Although once so abundant that it used, some two or three centuries ago,
to feed on offal in the London streets, the remnant of our indigenous
Kites are now reduced to some dozen individuals in the more remote parts
of Wales. The gamekeeper, the egg-collector, and even the salmon-angler
have all combined to destroy this noble species, and even now, when it
is far too scarce to do any harm, a vandal has recently shot one of the
remnant, and owing to a fault in the administration of the law has got
off scot free. It will not be until we have public opinion aroused
sufficiently to protect our natural beauties that this ruthless
extermination of any rare bird will be stopped. Certain species, _e.g._
Robin, Thrush, Nightingale, House Martin, etc., are so well protected by
that opinion as to become almost too numerous in certain places. The
shooting of many of our rarer wanderers can do no great harm if the lust
for killing rare birds must be indulged in, but our rare resident or
breeding migrants should never be destroyed. We cannot replace what is
thus killed, and these living bits of Nature form a heritage left us by
former generations, which it becomes our duty to hand on to the future.
For even in the immediate present the delight of seeing the living bird
in its native haunts is not confined to ornithologists, but thousands,
rich and poor, appreciate intensely the sight of one of our larger and
rarer species, amidst its natural surroundings; and no censure can be
too strong for the man who wilfully destroys that creature for his own
selfish ends, whether for the sake of having its stuffed effigy in a
glass case, or that he may bag a larger number of pheasants in due
season. It is a crime as great or greater than the stealing of art
treasures from our National Gallery.

The wide circling flight of the Kite is a magnificent sight, as it daily
covers large tracts of country in search of its food. Offal and carrion
are, or should be, the chief diet of this species, but in this country
it chiefly subsists on small mammals and birds, becoming, at the nesting
time, very bold and taking toll from the poultry-yard and game coverts.

The Kite was formerly common throughout England and by no means rare in
Scotland, but for many years past it has been restricted to certain
places, in almost all of which it is now extinct. It is only a very
occasional wanderer to Ireland.

The nest is placed in a tall tree and composed of sticks, with a lining
of any rubbish that can be found. The eggs, three in number, often only
two, are pale blue, spotted and streaked with reddish.

The adult is brown on the back and chestnut below, with darker stripes.
Tail rufous and much forked. Head and neck whitish, with darker stripes.
Length 25 in.; wing 20 in.



                             THE BLACK KITE
                       Milvus migrans (Boddaert)


This species, although a regular summer visitor to the valley of the
Rhine and Moselle, has only once found its way to our shores. Its home
is throughout Central and Southern Europe, migrating southwards from the
more northerly portions of its range in winter.

The head and throat are whitish, streaked with dark brown; rest of the
plumage brown, more rufous on the breast. The female is rather darker on
the head. Length 24 in.; wing 18 in.



                           THE HONEY BUZZARD
                       Pernis apivorus (Linnæus)


This migratory species, which is widely distributed throughout most of
the wooded districts of Europe, visits us annually on both its spring
and autumn migrations, and a few pairs generally attempt to nest in
suitable localities. The greed of the egg-collector has sadly diminished
the number of these summer residents, though with adequate protection
moderate numbers might again be induced to spend the summer months in
these islands.

The adult has the head greyish; upper parts brown; under parts white,
barred and spotted on the breast. Length about 23 in.; wing 17 in.



                          THE GREENLAND FALCON
                     Falco candicans, J. F. Gmelin


This species breeds in the Far North, in Greenland, Jan Mayen, and
Novaya Zemlya, migrating southwards in winter. A good many examples have
from time to time been taken in Great Britain, chiefly, as would be
expected, in Scotland and Ireland.

The adult is white, streaked on the upper parts with black, and
sometimes slightly spotted below. Young birds are much more heavily
marked. Length 21 in.; wing 14·5 in. The female is slightly larger.

This Falcon may be distinguished in all ages by the prevailing ground
colour being white.



                           THE ICELAND FALCON
                      Falco islandus, J. F. Gmelin


This species is confined to Iceland, though very closely allied forms
may be found in South Greenland and Labrador. Its visits to these
islands have not been nearly so numerous as those of the former species.

The general colour of the upper parts is brownish grey, becoming greyer
with age, with pale buff markings. Under parts whitish, the flanks
barred with dark brown. Length of male 21 in.; wing 14·5 in.; the female
is rather larger.



                             THE GYR FALCON
                        Falco gyrfalco, Linnæus


Two examples of this Scandinavian and North Russian species have been
obtained in England.

It is very closely allied to the Iceland Falcon, but the head is darker
and the under parts are very thickly barred. Length 19·5 in.; wing 14
in.



                             THE PEREGRINE
                       Falco peregrinus, Tunstall


This noble species, the king of Falcons, is still, we are glad to say,
by no means uncommon round our coasts, though as a breeding bird it has
been banished from most of its inland eyries. To those who still keep up
the ancient sport of hawking, an amusement, which to our minds comes
nearer true sport than any of its latter-day substitutes, the Peregrine
is the favourite bird, and a grand sight it is to see this beautiful
species “ring up” above his prey and “stoop” at him with half-closed
wings and unerring aim, when pursuer and pursued come down to ground,
the former to earn the reward of his prowess and the latter to a happy
despatch.

                [Illustration: PEREGRINE
                _Falco peregrinus_
                Adult (left). Young (right)]

Agricultural conditions have had much to do with the decline of this
sport, an amusement which lacks the one-sidedness of a Pheasant or
Partridge drive, and one in which the forces of nature are matched
together.

The Peregrine, as its name implies, is a bird of passage, and visits on
migration most parts of our islands. In the nesting season at the end of
March or early in April it returns to its former eyrie, generally on
some overhung ledge of a cliff on which there is a little earth, or more
rarely in the old deserted nest of Rook or Crow. It adds no materials
but lays its four beautiful yellowish eggs, which are thickly marked
with deeper shades of orange and rufous, on the bare ground, or in the
nest just as it was found. The young are covered at first with whitish
down. Its food, which is always taken on the wing, consists of birds of
all kinds, up to the size of a Crow, but Ducks, Sea-fowl, and Pigeons
constitute, as a rule, its chief prey.

The young remain near their home for some time, till they are finally
driven away by their parents, but the old birds, having once settled on
a home, do not as a rule wander very far away from it. In its more
northerly breeding haunts, however, both old and young migrate on the
approach of winter.

The male, usually known in hawking parlance as the “tiercel,” is much
smaller than his mate, and has the upper parts slate grey; the under
parts buffish white, barred with black. The crown and cheeks are also
black. The female is browner and more thickly barred on the under parts.
The young have buff margins to the feathers of the back and are striped
instead of being barred below. Length of male 15 in.; wing 12·5 in. The
female is larger.



                               THE HOBBY
                        Falco subbuteo, Linnæus


This species is very like a small Peregrine and comes to us yearly to
rear its young. Although occurring throughout our islands, it is very
local, being commonest in our southern and eastern counties. It very
seldom nests north of Yorkshire, where it becomes rare. In the west of
England and in Ireland it is almost unknown.

In flight and habits it closely resembles the Peregrine, its food
consisting chiefly of small birds and insects.

An old Crow’s or Magpie’s nest is appropriated, and the eggs, usually
three in number, closely resemble those of the Kestrel but are slightly
smaller. Old and young leave us again in September.

The sexes are alike, and very dark slate grey on the back; chin white;
under parts buffish, striped with black; thighs and vent red. Length
about 13 in.; wing 10·5 in.



                               THE MERLIN
                         Falco æsalon, Tunstall


On moorlands and cliffs by the sea-shore, the Merlin is tolerably
abundant from Wales northwards, but in the south of England it is rarely
seen. The nest is a mere “scrape” among the heather, or when near the
sea-coast a former Crow’s nest on a cliff is frequently appropriated,
and it has been known to lay its eggs in old nests on trees. The eggs
are very like those of the Hobby and Kestrel, from which they can with
difficulty be distinguished.

The Merlin preys almost entirely on small birds; its flight is very
swift and powerful and it is very bold, attacking birds as large as
itself. Larks and Thrushes are its favourite prey, and on the sea-shore
it is very fond of Dunlins and other kinds of Sandpipers.

Resident with us throughout the year, it nevertheless wanders about a
good deal during the winter and becomes generally distributed, but the
adults for the most part remain near their breeding haunts.

The adult male is slate grey on the back, throat white, under parts
buffish, striped with dark brown. Length 11 in.; wing 7·8 in.

The female is browner above and with pale under parts. She is also
rather larger than the male. The young resemble the female but they are
more rufous in tint.



                         THE RED-FOOTED FALCON
                       Falco vespertinus, Linnæus


This species is commonest in Eastern Europe, and is gradually extending
its range northwards; it migrates to Africa in winter. Some thirty
examples have at long intervals occurred in this country, chiefly in the
east and south.

The adult male has the head, throat, breast, and upper parts very dark
lead grey; thighs and vent chestnut. The female has the head and nape
chestnut; upper parts slate grey, with darker bars; under parts pale
chestnut. Length 11·5 in.; wing 9·7 in.



                                KESTREL
                       Falco tinnunculus, Linnæus


The Kestrel, or as it is sometimes called, “the Windhover,” is one of
the most graceful and harmless of our small Hawks. Year in, year out, he
is with us, and his beautiful flight may be observed throughout these
islands. He may be seen on any fine day high up in the air, remaining
apparently motionless, but ever and anon keeping his position by a few
rapid and quivering wing-beats, he will then turn slowly sideways and,
revealing as he does so a red back and dark quills, he will describe a
wide curve and again hang motionless in the wind. He is at last
beginning to be recognised as one of the farmer’s most useful friends,
and as a perfectly harmless adjunct to the Pheasant covert, and thus he
is yearly becoming more abundant. He feeds entirely on mice and small
rodents, and only occasionally on small birds such as Larks.

                [Illustration: KESTREL
                _Falco tinnunculus_
                Male (below). Female (above)]

Towards the end of April the Kestrel repairs with his mate to his former
abode or to some convenient spot near by. He does not build a nest for
himself, but occupies the deserted home of a Crow or Magpie, a hole in a
tree, if possible one which is open at the top, or the ledge of the
cliff near the sea-shore. There, with little or no addition of material,
the six eggs, of a beautiful rich red colour, are laid, but occasionally
they have a paler ground colour and are blotched with deep red.

In about three weeks the young are hatched, and, as in the case of all
birds of prey, are thickly covered with pale greyish down. At first
their parents on bringing the food tear it up for them and allow the
young to peck it from their beaks, but as they grow and their appetite
increases (for their voracity at this age is enormous), the food is
merely brought to the nest and the young tear it to pieces and eat it
without further aid. Like several other birds, the Kestrel at such a
time does not hunt in the immediate vicinity of his nest, and, except
that he may occasionally be seen flying over, he is seldom “at home” to
reveal the presence of his young. At the age of five or six weeks the
young leave the nest; at first they do not fly much but remain perched
near the nest and are still carefully watched and tended by the parents,
while they gradually learn to catch and capture their own food.

At this time the family is always to be found near the nest, and that
locality having been to a certain extent untouched, there is presumably
abundant food for the young birds without their having to wander far
afield. In this manner the summer passes, and as the days draw in and
food becomes scarcer, the old birds become weary of their offspring and
may frequently be seen fighting and driving them away. The young birds
then take the hint, and leave the old folks at home, to wander forth all
over the country and earn their living; many come down to the shore and
emigrate, while others wander about till they find a suitable hunting
ground in which to pass the winter.

With the advent of spring they have in their turn to seek a permanent
home; perhaps they will meet with an older bird who has lost his mate
during the winter and has a home ready, or perhaps they will
inadvertently try to settle near an old eyrie and be driven away, but
eventually a place will be found, and the inhabitants of a new district
will be delighted, if they have eyes for Nature, by the charming ways
and flight of their new visitors.

The adult male on the upper parts is of a deep chestnut, spotted or
barred with black; under parts pale buff, striped with black. The head
and nape are bluish grey, as is also the tail, which has a broad
subterminal black band and is tipped with white. The female is more
barred on the back and has the head brown, striped with darker. The tail
is rufous, barred with black and slightly tinged with grey. The young
resemble the female. Length 14 in.; wing 9·5 in.



                           THE LESSER KESTREL
                        Falco cenchris, Naumann


Very few examples of this small Hawk have been taken in this country. It
is a summer visitor to Southern Europe, but towards the east it breeds
in higher latitudes.

It may be distinguished from the Common Kestrel by its smaller size and
white claws. Length 12·26 in.; wing 9·2 in.



                               THE OSPREY
                      Pandion haliaëtus (Linnæus)


This species may occasionally be seen on our shallow bays and estuaries
or on inland lakes during the autumn migration, but its large size and
conspicuous flight soon call forth a gunner and it is either shot or
frightened away. It was never common in England, but in the eighteenth
century it used to nest in a few localities. Nowadays only one or two
eyries are known in the British Isles, and these are situated in remote
parts of the Highlands of Scotland and zealously protected. Its food
consists entirely of surface-swimming fish, on which it plunges from a
considerable height.

The male has the head white, streaked with brown, rest of the upper
parts brown; under parts white slightly spotted with brown on the
breast. Legs greenish blue.

The female is rather larger and more spotted on the breast. The young
have buff margins to the feathers of the back. Length 22 in.; wing 19
in.



                             THE CORMORANT
                     Phalacrocorax carbo (Linnæus)


With the Cormorant we come to quite another order of birds in which the
feet, including the hind toe, are completely webbed. Their food consists
entirely of fish, which they obtain by diving and of which they consume
an immense quantity.

The Cormorant is abundant round all our shores and nests in colonies on
rocky cliffs.

Its breeding places are very numerous and may be said to occur pretty
generally wherever suitable localities are to be found. The nest is an
untidy accumulation of seaweed, and the eggs, usually five in number,
are pale blue in colour, but are thickly covered with a white chalky
encrustation.

The young are blind at first and covered with blackish down. They feed
on half-digested food, which they procure by inserting their head and
neck into the parents’ crop. It is rather a sedentary bird, spending
much of its time on rocks just above high-water mark; in diving it moves
almost entirely by means of its feet, the wings being kept closely
folded to its side. When searching for food it places its head under
water, and on sighting a fish dives under with scarcely a ripple; on
being captured the victim is brought to the surface and swallowed head
first, and the search for another is recommenced. Having satisfied his
hunger he mounts a rock and stands there erect, drying himself in the
wind with outstretched wings, for in spite of their diving habits the
feathers of these birds have very little power of resisting water, and
after a prolonged immersion become quite saturated. It flies well and
strongly with the head and neck outstretched in front and looks not
unlike a Duck. In some places it nests inland near large lakes, and in
such localities the nest is placed on trees.

The adult is of a deep glossy greenish black, which becomes more bronze
in tint on the mantle. Many of the feathers on the head and neck are
white, and there is a white patch on the thighs which is assumed during
the winter and lost in May. The young are brownish and lack the gloss of
the old birds; the under parts are whitish. They become adult in about
three years. Length 36 in.; wing 14 in.

                [Illustration: SHAG
                _Phalacrocorax graculus_
                Adult in breeding dress. Young on sea]



                                THE SHAG
                    Phalacrocorax graculus, Linnæus


The Shag is widely distributed round our coasts, especially those rocky
portions abounding in caves, on the ledges of which it breeds. It is a
smaller and more local species than the last, and is never found
breeding inland and rarely in colonies. In all other ways it is a
counterpart of its larger congener, with which it is often confounded by
local fishermen.

During the breeding season it is rather noisy, the note being a harsh
“kraik, kraik.”

The adult is of a uniform glossy bronze green and wears for a short time
in spring an upright and forwardly-directed crest. The young resemble
those of the Cormorant except in size, but the tail has only twelve,
instead of fourteen tail feathers, and this forms an unmistakable
character at all ages. The absence of the pale gular pouch will also
enable this species to be recognised when on the wing. Length 27 in.;
wing 10·75 in.



                               THE GANNET
                         Sula bassana (Linnæus)


The Gannet is a local species, nesting in enormous numbers on certain
rocks which have formed their home for centuries. These colonies are
pretty well distributed round our coasts, especially in Scotland and
Ireland, but in England, the Farn Islands on the east, and Grassholm in
Wales, are their only strongholds, a former colony on Lundy Island being
nearly, if not quite, exterminated. The Bass Rock, one of the largest
and best known of these colonies, is, in summer, a sight never to be
forgotten; the whole of the face of the cliff appearing entirely white,
from the closely packed sitting birds, who at this season are very tame
and allow themselves to be stroked while incubating.

The nest is a loose accumulation of seaweed and other materials picked
up along the shore. A single egg only is laid, which, except in size,
resembles that of the Cormorant. The young when first hatched are black
and naked, but soon assume a thick covering of white down; they remain
in the nest a long time, not leaving it until they are fully fledged.

A party of Gannets fishing is a beautiful sight; they are not divers
like the Cormorant but feed on surface-swimming fish, and in winter
often follow the shoals of herring and mackerel. Having marked his fish
from high up in the air, the Gannet folds his wings and drops on it
perpendicularly, striking the water with great force. When not at its
breeding haunts it keeps more out at sea than its rock-loving congeners
and is very seldom seen sitting on the shore.

The adult is pure creamy white, buff on the crown and nape, and with
black primaries. In their first year the young are brown all over, each
feather having a small triangular white spot at the tip. The adult
plumage is not assumed until the fifth or sixth year, the plumage during
youth being various intermediate stages. Length 34 in.; wing 19 in.



                            THE COMMON HERON
                         Ardea cinerea, Linnæus


Owing to its shy, retiring, and wary habits, this bird is still fairly
common with us. It spends the late summer and winter in marshes by the
sides of sluggish rivers and ditches, patiently waiting for some unwary
fish to come within striking distance of its formidable bill. Frogs,
snakes, rats, and mice are also equally relished, and it is by no means
dainty or particular as to its food.

In former days it was strictly protected and used as quarry for hawking,
in which chase the Hawk would often receive serious wounds from the
deadly dagger-shaped beak.

The Heron nests in colonies on high trees, the nest being built of
sticks, lined with small twigs, moss, and wool. Five eggs of a uniform
greenish blue form the clutch, and the young, which are extremely
helpless when first hatched, are carefully fed by their parents on
predigested food. The flight of this species appears slow and lumbering.
The legs are carried stretched out behind and the head and neck closely
folded in to the body. When disturbed or alarmed they utter a harsh
“frank, frank.” Although usually nesting inland, they may often be found
by the sea-shore in autumn and winter, especially during hard weather
when their inland haunts are frozen over.

The adult is bluish grey on the upper parts; the head and neck are white
with the exception of the crest, which is bluish black, as well as a row
of dark longitudinal markings on either side of the neck. Under parts
greyish white. Shoulders bluish black. The young resemble their parents
but are browner and lack the long filamentous plumes on the back and
base of the neck. The adult plumage is assumed by degrees, not reaching
its full beauty till in the fourth or fifth year. Length 34 in.; wing 19
in.



                            THE PURPLE HERON
                        Ardea purpurea, Linnæus


The Purple Heron inhabits marshes in South and Central Europe, building
a nest low down in the reeds, its nearest nesting place to us being in
Holland. A good many examples, mostly immature, have occurred along our
east coasts. On the back the adult is dark slate grey with rufous and
buff dorsal plumes. Neck reddish, with dark elongated stripe down either
side. Under parts rich maroon red. Immature birds are rusty red on the
neck and upper parts, brownish on the under parts. Length 33 in.; wing
14·25 in.



                         THE GREAT WHITE HERON
                          Ardea alba, Linnæus


Very few examples of this large species have occurred in Great Britain.
It breeds on the Danube and thence eastwards in South Russia. The
plumage is pure white, legs and feet black. This species has become much
scarcer owing to persecution for its plumes, known as “ospreys.” Length
33 in.; wing 17 in.



                            THE LITTLE EGRET
                        Ardea garzetta, Linnæus


This species breeds in Europe in the countries bordering the
Mediterranean. It has only occurred in these islands on two or three
occasions. Plumage pure white. Length 21 in,; wing 11·25 in.



                         THE BUFF-BACKED HERON
                        Ardea bubulcus, Audouin


A scarce species in Southern Europe, but breeding in the marismas of
Spain. It is often found perched on the backs of cattle. Only known in
England from one example shot in 1805. Plumage white, except the crown,
nape, and back, which are saffron yellow. Length 20 in.; wing 9·5 in.



                           THE SQUACCO HERON
                        Ardea ralloides, Scopoli


The Squacco Heron breeds in suitable localities throughout Central and
Southern Europe, and has visited this country on a good many occasions,
generally during the spring immigration. Head, neck, and back pale buff,
the crown and nape streaked with dark lines. Sides and front of the neck
buff; under parts white. Length 20 in.; wing 9 in.



                            THE NIGHT HERON
                      Nycticorax griseus (Linnæus)


This species has frequently occurred on our south and east coasts at
irregular intervals, and on one occasion eight adult birds were
destroyed during the breeding season, when they might possibly have
nested. It breeds chiefly in Southern and South-eastern Europe, but a
few pairs still nest in Holland and Northern Germany.

The crown, nape, and back of the adult are greenish black; the neck,
tail, and wing coverts drab; the under parts greyish white. Length 23
in.; wing 12 in.



                           THE LITTLE BITTERN
                        Ardetta minuta (Linnæus)


This species is abundant in summer throughout Central and Southern
Europe, migrating to Africa for the winter months. To Northern Europe it
is only a scarce straggler, but in the United Kingdom it has been
obtained fairly frequently, especially in our eastern and southern
counties, and there is little doubt that it has on more than one
occasion stayed to breed. It inhabits thick reed-beds, and when
disturbed either creeps away with great speed through the vegetation or
remains motionless with head erect, in which position it closely
resembles the reeds.

The male has the crown, nape, back, quills, and tail greenish black, the
rest of the plumage buff, paler on the wing coverts. The female has the
crown, nape, and back brown, and the under parts buff, streaked with
brown. The young resemble the female. Length 13 in.; wing 6 in.



                           THE COMMON BITTERN
                      Botaurus stellaris (Linnæus)


Owing to drainage and cultivation, the Bittern, which used formerly to
breed in various swamps and reed-beds, especially in our eastern
counties, is now only known as a migrant. It still occurs yearly on our
shores, and if unmolested it is probable that it would once more nest
with us.

The nest is a heap of reeds placed on the marsh in the thickest part of
a reed-bed. The eggs are usually four in number and of a uniform
brownish olive colour. In the breeding season it utters a loud “booming”
noise, but at other times it is a very silent bird.

The adult is buff, irregularly barred and streaked all over with black,
except on the head, which is pure black. Sexes and young are alike in
plumage. Length 28 in.; wing 13 in.



                          THE AMERICAN BITTERN
                    Botaurus lentiginosus (Montagu)


This bird was, curiously enough, first described from a specimen killed
in Dorset. It is a purely American species but a good many examples have
been taken in all parts of the United Kingdom. It may be distinguished
from the preceding species by its smaller size, darker coloration, and
uniformly brown primaries. Length 24 in.; wing 11 in.



                            THE WHITE STORK
                        Ciconia alba, Bechstein


It is curious that a bird so common and well protected on the Continent
should not be of more general occurrence in these islands. It can only
be considered a rare straggler, most of the examples having been seen in
spring.

                [Illustration: BITTERN
                _Botaurus stellaris_]

The whole plumage is white, except the quills, which are black. Legs and
bill crimson. Length 40 in.; wing 23 in.



                            THE BLACK STORK
                        Ciconia nigra (Linnæus)


Some fourteen examples in all of this fine bird have been procured in
England. It breeds in Sweden, Denmark and East Germany and thence
eastwards in Central and Southern Russia. Like the White Stork, it is a
migrant, wintering in Africa.

The whole of the plumage is black, with metallic reflections, except the
lower breast and vent, which are white. Length 38 in.; wing 21 in.



                            THE GLOSSY IBIS
                     Plegadis falcinellus (Linnæus)


In the southern and eastern parts of England this species used to be
well known as an autumn migrant, but of late years it has become
decidedly scarcer. It breeds commonly in the marismas of Spain and the
marshes of the Danube.

The head, neck, and under parts are a deep coppery brown; back, wings,
and tail glossy brownish black. The bill is long and shaped like that of
a Curlew. The sexes and young are alike in plumage. Length 22 in.; wing
10·75 in.



                             THE SPOONBILL
                      Platalea leucorodia, Linnæus


This species used formerly to breed in several localities in England,
but these have long been deserted. It, however, still occurs on
migration, and a few annually visit the Norfolk Broads in spring, where,
as they are now strictly protected, it is to be hoped that they may once
again be induced to nest. It still nests in Holland, but in other
districts where it used to occur it seems to have died out as a breeding
species, and is now restricted to more southern localities, such as the
south of Spain, the Danube, and the Black Sea.

The whole of the plumage is white; gular pouch orange; bill black, with
yellow tip; legs black. The sexes are alike in plumage. The young may be
distinguished by the black ends to the quill feathers and the
flesh-coloured bill. The adult plumage is not fully assumed till in the
second or third year. Length 36 in.; bill 8·5 in.; wing 14·5 in.



                              THE FLAMINGO
                      Phœnicopterus roseus, Pallas


This curious and well-known bird is only a very rare straggler to our
shores. It breeds in the Camargue district at the mouth of the Rhone as
well as in Spain, but its main breeding grounds are in Africa. It nests
in colonies, the nests being conical structures, formed of mud, built
near the edge of the water. It is now definitely ascertained that it
sits with its long legs doubled up, and not straddle-legged as was
stated by early travellers. The food consists of minute crustacea and
other insects.

The adult is of a pale rose pink all over, darker on the wing coverts.
The quills are black. Legs pink; bill rosy, with black tip. The young
are of a pale mottled brown. Length about 5 ft.; wing 15 in.



                           THE GREY LAG GOOSE
                         Anser cinereus, Meyer


Although about a century ago this bird used to nest in the fens of
Cambridge and Lincolnshire, it has long since ceased to do so, and the
only places where it may still be found breeding in these islands are in
the north of Scotland and in the Outer Hebrides. In winter it occurs on
our coasts in company with other species of Geese, but it is by no means
common, and the majority pass on to the south, reappearing on their way
north in spring. The food consists chiefly of grass and other green
food, which it seeks on salt marshes near the sea by day, retiring to
the shore to rest at night. It is the only Goose that breeds in our
islands. The nest is begun in the middle of April and consists merely of
a “scrape” amongst the grass or heather which is lined, as incubation
proceeds, with down plucked from the body of the female. The eggs are
usually six in number and dull yellowish white in colour.

As soon as the female begins to sit the males gather together in small
flocks and take no further interest in their mates. Geese are strong
fliers, and, being very wary birds, extremely difficult to approach. In
flight they usually assume a wedge-shaped formation known as a “skein.”
The note is a harsh “gaggle, gaggle,” like that of our domestic Goose,
which is supposed to have originated from this species.

There is some doubt as to the origin of the name Grey Lag, but it is now
generally conceded to have been applied to this species because it
lagged behind after the other Geese had gone to their breeding quarters
in the north.

The adult is greyish brown on the upper parts and breast, the rest of
the under parts being whitish grey with a few black feathers. The young
are rather darker and lack the black feathers underneath. Length 34 in.;
wing 17 in.



                        THE WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
                       Anser albifrons (Scopoli)


This Goose, whose chief breeding grounds are in Siberia, though it also
nests across the whole of Northern Europe, visits us in fair numbers
every winter, but it is more abundant in the south and south-west than
on the east coast, and is everywhere very local in its distribution.

It very closely resembles the Grey Lag Goose, but there is more white on
the forehead; the bill is orange yellow with white nail, and the legs
orange. Length 27 in.; wing 16 in.



                             THE BEAN GOOSE
                      Anser segetum (J. F. Gmelin)


This species nests throughout Northern Europe and Asia. It is common on
our coasts in winter, and is in fact the most abundant of our wild
Geese. In Scotland, however, it is not so numerous as the preceding
species.

This bird feeds inland on grain and vegetation.

The bill is black, with an orange band across the centre and a _black_
nail; the amount of orange on the bill varies, however, in individuals,
and several forms have been differentiated, though the matter requires
further confirmation before being finally accepted. The amount of orange
in the bill may also vary, in some cases, during the life of a single
individual. Legs orange yellow. There is no bluish grey on the shoulder
of the wing, as in the Grey Lag and Pink-footed. Length 34 in.; wing 19
in.



                         THE PINK-FOOTED GOOSE
                     Anser brachyrhynchus, Baillon


On the east of England and Scotland this species is very plentiful
during the winter, but in the south of England and on our west coasts it
is comparatively rare, and its occurrence in Ireland is not yet
authenticated. It breeds in Northern Europe and is apparently the only
“Grey Goose” breeding on Spitzbergen.

The bill is black, with pink across the centre and a black nail. Legs
pink. This pink colour has sometimes a yellowish tinge and so cannot be
accepted as a definite character on which to diagnose this species. The
wing, however, in the Pink-footed Goose is blue grey, approaching that
of the Grey Lag, and this, together with its smaller size, will
distinguish it from the preceding species. Length 28 in.; wing 17·5 in.



                             THE SNOW GOOSE
                       Chen hyperboreus (Pallas)


This is a North American species, breeding in Arctic Regions and
wandering south in winter. It has occurred several times in Ireland, and
small flocks were seen in Cumberland, Northumberland, and Yorkshire
during the severe winter of 1890-91.

The adult is pure white, with black quills. The young is brownish grey
on the back, lighter on the under parts. Length about 30 in.; wing 17
in.



                         THE RED-BREASTED GOOSE
                      Bernicla ruficollis (Pallas)


Only one or two examples of this rare Goose have been obtained in this
country. It breeds in Eastern Siberia, whence it migrates southwards
past the Ural and Caspian Seas.

The general colour above is black; the ear patches, throat, and breast
chestnut; lores and belly white; chin black. Length 21 in.; wing 14·5
in.



                           THE BERNACLE GOOSE
                     Bernicla leucopsis (Bechstein)


Nesting abundantly in Greenland and in some numbers on Spitzbergen, the
Bernacle Goose is by no means uncommon in winter along the west coast of
the United Kingdom as far south as Lancaster, as well as on the north
coast of Ireland. Elsewhere in these islands it is decidedly rare. It
feeds on grass pastures near the sea, almost invariably by night.

This species is commonly kept in captivity, where it breeds freely.

The crown of the head, neck, and upper breast are black; mantle grey,
barred with black and white; forehead, cheeks, and chin white. Under
parts greyish. Tail coverts pure white. Length 27 in.; wing 16 in.



                            THE BRENT GOOSE
                        Bernicla brenta (Pallas)


This species is one of the most abundant of our Geese, and is found in
enormous flocks round our coasts throughout the whole winter. It breeds
along the west coast of Greenland and also on the islands and northern
coasts of Russia and Siberia. It feeds chiefly by day, and is fond of
wading about in mud-flats or in shallow water feeding on aquatic
vegetation.

The whole plumage is chiefly black, except the tail coverts, which are
white, and a white patch on each side of the neck. Length 22 in.; wing
13 in.



                            THE WHOOPER SWAN
                       Cygnus musicus, Bechstein


Formerly breeding in small numbers in the Orkneys, this species now only
visits us during the winter, its numbers depending largely on the
severity of the climate in Northern Europe. It frequents bays,
estuaries, and inland lakes, feeding on weeds and aquatic vegetation.
The note is a loud “whoop, whoop, whoop,” from which its trivial name
has been derived, and is often uttered as they fly along the shore in a
long straggling line. The sexes are alike in plumage, as are all
palæarctic Swans, and this species may be distinguished by the colour of
the bill, which is black at the tip and yellow at the base, the yellow
extending forward beyond the openings of the black nostrils. The base of
the bill is flat and quadrangular and not knobbed as in the Mute Swan.
Length 60 in.; wing 25·5 in.



                             BEWICK’S SWAN
                        Cygnus bewicki, Yarrell


This species, which is smaller than the Whooper, visits us regularly
every winter, and is in some places the commoner of the wild Swans. In
Scotland it is abundant in some seasons as it is also in Ireland, but on
the coasts of England and Wales it is always rather scarce. It breeds in
the Far North to the east of the White Sea.

It may be distinguished from the Whooper by its smaller size and the
extent of the yellow on the beak, which does not quite reach the
nostrils. Length about 46 in.; wing about 21 in.



                             THE MUTE SWAN
                       Cygnus olor (J. F. Gmelin)


In this country the Mute Swan is only met with in a state of
semi-domestication, having been introduced at some early period of
history. It is now, however, widely distributed throughout our islands.
Inhabiting lakes, rivers, and ornamental waters, it feeds on aquatic
weeds and grain, and is extremely useful in preventing an undue growth
of weeds in ornamental ponds and lakes. The nest is a huge structure of
straw and rushes, built upon the edge of the water, or in the centre of
a reed-bed. The eggs, which vary in number from five to nine or ten, are
of a uniform pale green, and are hatched after some five weeks’
incubation.

The young, which are covered at first with greyish down, are carefully
tended by both parents, and when tired nestle on their parents’ back. In
olden times the right to keep Swans on the Thames was granted by the
King to many of the City Companies, and in the autumn of each year (a
custom which is still continued) the young Swans are caught up and
marked on the bill with the private mark of the Company to whom they
belong. This is known as “Swan upping.” The male is known as the “Cob”
and the female as the “Pen,” and the rules and regulations clearly state
how the brood shall be awarded in the event of the Cob and Pen belonging
to different Companies, while the landowner on whose ground they nest
also comes in for a share.

At the nest the male Swan is very savage, attacking any intruder with
his bill and with savage beats of his powerful wings; his mate, however,
is very quiet and will allow herself to be pushed off the nest with no
stronger protestation than a subdued “hiss.”

This Swan is not mute as its name implies, but has a loud trumpet-like
note, to which, however, it seldom gives utterance.

In a purely wild state, this species may be found breeding in Denmark
and the south of Sweden, and it is a common breeding species in
South-eastern Europe. From its northern breeding haunts it migrates in
winter, many probably coming over to our shores.

The plumage is pure white; the bill reddish orange with a black knob at
its base. This knob is much larger than in the male. The young are
greyish drab. The so-called “Polish Swan” is a variety of this species,
in which the young are white. Length about 56 in.; wing 27 in.



                         THE COMMON SHELD-DUCK
                     Tadorna cornata (S. G. Gmelin)


Although somewhat local in its breeding haunts, this species is fairly
abundant round all our coasts in winter. It is a Sea-Duck, being seldom
found far inland, and its food consists of small mollusca and marine
insects, which it seeks on our flat estuaries and along the shore.

A rabbit-burrow in sand-dunes near the sea is chosen for a nesting-site,
and lined with a little grass, to which is subsequently added an
abundance of grey down from the body of the female. Occasionally it
makes its own burrow, or other sites such as crevices between boulders
or under furze bushes are selected. The eggs, generally ten in number,
are creamy white. As soon as they are hatched the mother leads her brood
to the shore, where they feed, making for the sea on the first sign of
danger.

During the pairing season this bird is very noisy, the male uttering a
short whistle, while both sexes run round each other with out-stretched
neck, making a curious guttural chuckle.

In winter large flocks of these birds visit us from the Continent. These
flocks may be seen resting out at sea by day and come in to feed on the
soft ooze by night; they are of course more partial to flat and sandy
parts of the coast, but may nevertheless often be found in small sandy
bays on an otherwise rocky shore.

The head and neck are glossy bluish black; the scapulars and primaries
black. There is a broad band of bright chestnut across the back and
breast, and a black stripe along the centre of the under parts. Speculum
green. The rest of the plumage is pure white. Legs flesh pink; bill
crimson. The sexes are alike, but the female is smaller and duller. The
male has a crimson knob at the base of his bill which swells up
considerably during the breeding season.

The young bird lacks the chestnut band, the head and neck are dull
brownish black, the scapulars greyish brown, and in its first autumn it
assumes a plumage similar to the adult female, but duller. Length 25
in.; wing 13 in. Both sexes assume in July a much duller plumage,
somewhat resembling that of the young in their first winter.



                          THE RUDDY SHELD-DUCK
                       Tadorna casarca (Linnæus)


The Ruddy Sheld-Duck is a South-eastern European species, breeding on
the shores of the Levant and throughout Northern Africa, but it is rare
on the north shores of the Mediterranean west of the Adriatic. It has
several times been noted as a straggler to England, and in 1892 many
flocks appeared in different parts of the country.

                [Illustration: SHELD-DUCK
                _Tadorna cornuta_]

The general colour is a deep orange brown, the head being rather
lighter. The male has a narrow black collar during the nesting season.
The female is much paler on the head, the forehead, lores, and a ring
round the eye being nearly white. Length 25 in.; wing 14·5 in.



                        THE MALLARD OR WILD DUCK
                         Anas boschas, Linnæus


This is at once our commonest and most beautiful Duck. Owing to drainage
of fen-lands and higher cultivation it is, perhaps, not so abundant as
formerly, yet there are few marshes or low-lying lands of any extent in
our islands, which do not afford a home to a few pairs of this species.

It feeds chiefly by night on worms, aquatic insects, water weeds, and
grain, and prefers ditches overgrown with weeds or shallow ponds to open
stretches of deep water. Early in March it chooses a nesting site,
usually on the ground and at no great distance from water, but
exceptionally it has been known to nest in trees, faggots, stacks, and
other elevated places. No nest is formed, but a cup-shaped hollow is
scraped out, which is warmly lined with down after incubation commences.
The eggs, usually ten to twelve in number, are pale greenish yellow, and
are always carefully covered up by the Duck on leaving the nest. They
hatch after twenty-seven days’ incubation, and the young are then taken
to the nearest water, on or near which they remain for about two months
till they can fly. If, however, they are much disturbed they will be led
away by their mother to a neighbouring piece of water, often at some
considerable distance.

In a wild state the Mallard, as the male of this species is called, is
strictly monogamous, and during the whole of incubation he will remain
in the vicinity of the nest, warning his mate of the approach of danger,
and accompanying her when she comes off to feed. Once the young are
hatched he retires to some secluded and sheltered piece of water, where
he assumes a dull plumage, somewhat resembling that of the female.
During this period he becomes very skulking, rarely showing himself on
the open water. When his dull or “eclipse” plumage has been assumed, he
casts all his flight feathers at once, and for a short time becomes
incapable of flight. These grow again in about a fortnight, and then in
September he begins to assume his brilliant colours once more, and comes
from his secluded retreat to join his comrades. In the winter they
gather in large flocks, which resort to open sheets of water or the sea,
flighting every evening to the marshes and shore to feed, and retiring
again at daybreak to rest on the water.

                [Illustration: MALLARD OR WILD DUCK
                _Anas boschas_]

It is these daily movements of Duck that are known to sportsmen as
“flights,” and they afford excellent shooting to the gunner concealed on
their route. Vast numbers of this and other species of Duck used
formerly to be taken in decoys, but partly owing to decrease in the
numbers of the fowl, or still more to the increase of shooters, who
frighten them away, few if any decoys are now worked at a profit in this
country. A decoy is a pond in a suitable locality near the sea
surrounded by trees and having two or four curved arms known as “pipes”
running up at the different corners. These pipes are covered with
netting, and end in a small bag net. The Duck are enticed up by tame
birds and by means of a red dog that they follow out of curiosity. When
some way up the pipe they see behind them the decoyman, who has hitherto
been concealed by an ingenious arrangement of reed-screens, and rather
than turn back and face him, they rise and fly up the pipe into the net.
The whole operation must be carried out in silence so as not to scare
the other birds on the pond, who remain in complete ignorance of their
comrades’ fate. Absolute quiet and plenty of food are the essentials for
the successful working of a decoy. They are still used in Holland, where
they form a considerable source of profit to their owners; their number
is limited, and a licence has to be paid for each decoy.

After the brood can fly the Duck loses her primaries and becomes
incapable of flight for a short time, but as soon as her quills are
grown the whole family move off to join the flocks, which are now
rapidly forming. Large numbers visit us yearly from abroad, and a spell
of severe weather in midwinter still further increases their numbers.

The male has a glossy green head and neck, the latter being encircled by
a narrow white ring; rump and tail coverts glossy greenish black, the
four central coverts upturned; chest and breast deep chestnut; rest of
under parts pale grey, vermiculated with black; bill greenish yellow;
legs orange. The Duck is dark brown, the feathers having paler edgings.
The young resemble the female, but the males have assumed their full
dress by October. The male in eclipse has a plumage which approximates
to that of the female. Length 23 in.; wing 11 in.



                              THE GADWALL
                         Anas strepera, Linnæus


The Gadwall is a scarce visitor to our shores, occurring irregularly
along the east coasts of Scotland and England, but it is very rarely
seen in the west or in Ireland. In a few places in Norfolk, where it was
originally introduced, it breeds, and has of late years considerably
increased both there and in the surrounding counties. In habits it
resembles the Mallard. The eggs are usually ten in number and of a
delicate creamy pink. It may be easily recognised on the wing by its
white speculum.

On the Continent it nests in Central and Eastern Europe, its breeding
range extending to the far north of Russia. It winters in the
Mediterranean basin.

The adult male is greyish brown, with darker mottlings on the head and
neck; back dark brown, with greyish markings; median wing coverts
chestnut; greater coverts almost black. Under parts white, grey on the
flanks and vent. Under tail coverts black. The female is marked with
dark brown and buff much like a Wild Duck, but is recognisable by the
_white_ speculum. The young somewhat resemble the female. The white
speculum forms a distinctive mark of this species at all ages. Length 20
in.; wing 10·5 in.



                             THE SHOVELLER
                       Spatula clypeata (Linnæus)


This bird is by no means rare with us in winter, when large numbers come
over from abroad. It is essentially an inland species, preferring small
and sheltered pieces of water rather than wide open stretches. Its most
characteristic feature is the large flattened bill with which it feeds
on the surface-swimming animalculæ and other insects, the broad lamellæ
of the mandibles forming an efficient strainer. When feeding three or
four will often follow each other in a circle, each feeding in the
other’s wake. Of late years it has become more numerous as a breeding
bird, and it now nests commonly in the Broads and other districts of
Norfolk and the eastern counties. In Kent and the Midlands, Yorkshire
and the North, it nests sparingly, as well as in some of the southern
and eastern counties of Scotland. In Ireland it is a local but by no
means scarce species. Except in the breeding season it is a very silent
bird; when courting it moves its head up and down, uttering a low “took,
took,” which is answered by the female. The nest is generally placed at
some distance from the water in the middle of a dry grass-field, where
there is hardly any cover beyond a small patch of grass more luxuriant
than the rest.

The eggs, which number from eight to ten, are pale greenish buff in
colour. The female sits very closely, and the male remains in attendance
at no great distance and accompanies her when she comes off to feed. The
incubation period of this species is rather shorter than with most
Ducks, and lasts between twenty-one and twenty-three days. The young are
solely looked after by the Duck, and when first hatched their bills show
no trace of the broadening and flattening, characteristic of the adult.

During the summer the Drake assumes an “eclipse” plumage, which somewhat
resembles that of the Duck. In October he begins, _unlike_ most other
species, to assume an “intermediate” plumage, in which the head is very
dark but not metallic, and the white of the breast is obscured by dark
transverse bars. The full plumage is not usually complete till the end
of February or early in March.

In this country our breeding birds are practically resident, only
shifting from their nesting-quarters when frozen out. The majority of
birds met with, however, in winter are immigrants from the Continent,
who leave us again in March.

The adult Drake in full plumage is a beautiful bird. The head and upper
neck are metallic green; lower neck, breast, and scapulars white; back
brown; shoulders pale blue; greater wing coverts white. The under parts
are deep chestnut; speculum green; bill black; legs orange.

The Duck is dark brown, with light rufous buff edgings to the feathers.
Shoulders bluish. The young at first resemble the Duck, and in November
begin to assume the “intermediate” plumage described above, except that
the breast feathers are spotted and not barred. It does not always
assume its full plumage in the first year.

                [Illustration: SHOVELLER
                _Spatula clypeata_]



                              THE PINTAIL
                         Dafila acuta (Linnæus)


This species visits us in large numbers during the winter, arriving in
September and not leaving our shores till April. During this period it
is essentially a Sea-Duck, haunting shallow shores and estuaries, where
it feeds on aquatic vegetation, crustacea, and other animal life brought
in by each tide. It is commoner on the east coast than elsewhere owing
to the large tracts of shore suited to its habits, but it may be found
in smaller numbers on the west and in Ireland, wherever suitable
localities exist.

It is only of late years that it has been known to nest in this country,
a small colony having established themselves on one of the Scotch lochs.
Elsewhere it breeds abundantly throughout Northern Europe, migrating
southwards in winter. The nest is placed in a dry situation, at some
little distance from the water. The eggs are rather elongated in shape
and pale buffish green in colour.

The adult male has a brown head, greenish black on the nape. A white
stripe runs down the neck on either side, merging into the white of the
under parts. Back and flanks dark brown, mottled with grey. Wing coverts
buff; speculum bronze green; tail black, the two central feathers much
elongated; under tail coverts black; bill and legs slate grey. The
female is of varying shades of buff and brown. The elongated neck and
general shape of this species is sufficient to distinguish it from
others of its family. The young resemble the female, and moult directly
into their full plumage in their first autumn. The eclipse plumage of
the Drake, which is dark brown above and smoky grey below, is lost about
October. Length 26 in.; wing 11 in.



                                THE TEAL
                        Nettion crecca (Linnæus)


This is the smallest of our native species of Duck, and is fairly common
throughout our islands at all times of the year, but its numbers are
largely augmented in winter by the arrival of vast flocks from abroad.
It may be found in winter near the mouths of rivers and shallow
estuaries as well as inland; its food consists of grain, insects, worms,
slugs, and molluscs.

It breeds throughout our islands, but more abundantly in the north. The
nest is generally placed at some distance from water on a dry moorland
or rough grass-field, and this species makes a rough nest of leaves and
grass, lined with down. The eggs, eight to ten in number, are creamy
white.

The male has the crown, nape, cheeks, and throat chestnut; an elongated
patch of purplish green behind the eye, the rest of the upper parts
vermiculated with black and white except the rump and tail coverts,
which are black. Under parts white, the lower part of the neck and
breast being spotted and sometimes of a yellowish tinge; flanks
vermiculated with black. Speculum green and purplish black. Bill black,
legs brownish grey. The female is mottled with brown and buff. The young
resemble the female. The male in his eclipse dress, which is worn till
late in October or November, resembles the female very closely, more so
in fact than is the case with any other species. Length 14·5; wing 7·25
in.



                     THE AMERICAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL
                   Nettion carolinense (J. F. Gmelin)


This species has only occurred three or four times in these islands. The
male differs from the Common Teal in having some greyish vermiculated
feathers on either side of the breast, and the buffish white lines on
the face are very slightly defined. The female cannot be distinguished
from our native species. Length 16 in.; wing 7·25 in.



                          THE BLUE-WINGED TEAL
                     Querquedula discors (Linnæus)


This American species has been taken at least once in the United
Kingdom. The male has the throat, forehead, and crown dark lead colour,
and _a long crescentic patch of white_ in front of the eye. Cheeks and
neck dull lavender grey. Length 16 in.; wing 7·25 in.



                              THE GARGANEY
                      Querquedula circia (Linnæus)


This is one of our scarcest species, coming to us as a summer immigrant
from April to September, and remaining in a few suitable spots to breed.
It is commonest in Norfolk, and may also be found in Hants, Kent,
Suffolk, and Yorkshire. Elsewhere its occurrences are rare and only
consist of stragglers on migration.

It breeds regularly on the Continent from Sweden southwards, becoming
commoner in the east.

The nest is usually placed in a dry and often open situation, where
there is but little cover. The eggs resemble those of the Teal, but are
rather greener in tint.

The crown and nape of the male are dark brown, with a conspicuous white
stripe passing backwards over the eye. Cheeks and neck brown ticked with
white. Back dark brown; wing coverts bluish grey. Chin black; breast
pale brown, with dark crescentic bars; remainder of under parts white.
Vermiculated on the flanks. Speculum green; bill black; legs greenish.
Female somewhat similar to Duck of the common Teal, but may be
distinguished by the presence of a light stripe over the eye. The
feathers of the back are dark with light margins, not barred as in the
Teal, while the feathers of the breast are also entirely dark with white
margins. Length 16 in.; wing 7·8 in.



                               THE WIGEON
                       Mareca penelope (Linnæus)


The Wigeon is one of our commonest winter visitors, arriving in large
numbers from early in September onwards, and frequenting estuaries,
bays, and tidal waters, but rarely wandering far inland. Although
feeding also on marine insects and crustacea, it is chiefly a vegetable
eater, living almost entirely upon _Zostera marina_.

In Scotland a good many pairs remain to breed, and during the summer it
frequents high moorlands and inland waters. The nest is placed in a tuft
of rushes or among heather, and the eggs, usually ten in number, are of
a delicate creamy white. The note is a melodious whistle, which may be
expressed as “whee you.”

The male has the head and neck chestnut, with a broad buff stripe
extending backwards over the crown; back grey uniformly vermiculated;
throat and upper neck chestnut; breast white, vermiculated on the
flanks; shoulders white; speculum green. In the eclipse plumage the head
is dark chestnut, grizzled with brown; back brown, with chestnut edgings
to the feathers; flanks chestnut; under parts white. The female is dark
brownish grey above, lighter on the wing coverts, and white underneath.
Length 18·5 in.; wing 10·5 in.



                          THE AMERICAN WIGEON
                    Mareca americana (J. F. Gmelin)


One or two examples of this species have occurred in this country at
long intervals. It may be distinguished from our Wigeon by the forehead
and crown being dull white, the cheeks and neck whitish, speckled with
brown, and a green stripe passing backwards from the eye. The female has
the head and neck yellowish white, speckled with black. Length 19 in.;
wing 10·25 in.



                        THE RED-CRESTED POCHARD
                         Netta rufina (Pallas)


The Red-crested Pochard, whose nesting home is in South-Eastern Europe,
though it also nests sparingly in the Rhone delta and Spain, is only a
rare straggler to these islands, and most of the examples have been
obtained in Norfolk, where as recently as last year, 1906, a flock of
eight appeared, and needless to say were soon all shot.

It is a much larger bird than the Common Pochard, and may be
distinguished by its rufous crest, red bill, and legs, though differing
also in many other particulars. There are sixteen tail feathers instead
of fourteen as in the genus Fuligula. Length 22 in.; wing 10·5 in.

                [Illustration: WIGEON
                _Mareca penelope_]



                           THE COMMON POCHARD
                       Fuligula ferina (Linnæus)


With this and the preceding species we come to the second division of
the Ducks, which are known as Diving Ducks, in contradistinction to the
others which are known as surface-feeders, although quite capable, when
alarmed, of diving. Diving Ducks may be recognised by having the legs
placed further back on the body, thus rendering their progress on land
rather difficult, and by the hind toe being lobed.

The Pochard is chiefly a winter visitor to our shores, occurring not
uncommonly in most seasons, but being in some years much more numerous
than in others. It chiefly frequents the sea-coasts, feeding on
crustacea, molluscs, and a certain amount of marine or aquatic weeds,
which it procures almost entirely by diving, but it is by no means
exclusively confined to such localities, and is frequently met with on
inland waters, provided they are of sufficient size. In spring the
majority leave us for their breeding haunts on the Continent, but as a
breeding species with us it is on the increase, and may be found in a
certain number of favoured localities throughout England and Scotland.
In Ireland, where it is fairly abundant during the winter, it has only
been known to nest on a few occasions.

The note of the male is a low whistle, but both sexes utter an
alarm-note, which may be syllabled as “curre.” The nest is always placed
in thick cover close to the water’s edge, and the eggs, which number
seven to ten and are fairly large for the size of the bird, are of a
greenish drab colour.

The adult male has the head and neck chestnut; the breast and upper
parts black, the latter being finely freckled with grey. Under parts
greyish white. Bill black, with a broad band of slate grey across it.
Legs bluish grey. In its eclipse plumage the head becomes much browner,
and the chest is brown, faintly barred with lighter. The female has the
head, neck, and chest dull brown; the chin light, the rest of the
plumage being like the male but duller. The young resemble the female.
Length 19 in.; wing 8·25 in.



                          THE FERRUGINOUS DUCK
                     Fuligula nyroca (Güldenstädt)


In England this species has been observed on a good many occasions,
though some of the instances may have been those of escaped birds. It
has also been obtained in Scotland and Ireland. It breeds fairly
abundantly throughout Central and Southern Europe, where it is resident.

The male has the head, neck, and upper breast rich chestnut brown, the
rest of the upper parts brown, under parts white. The female is duller.
It may always be recognised by the white irides. Length 16 in.; wing
7·75 in.



                            THE TUFTED DUCK
                       Fuligula cristata (Leach)


This species is the commonest of our Diving Ducks, nesting in increasing
numbers on many of our inland waters throughout England, Scotland, and
Ireland.

In winter, as is the case with most Ducks, large numbers arrive from
abroad, and may be found in shallow bays, estuaries, and inland waters
in company with other species.

In food and habits it much resembles the Pochard, and is very good
eating after it has been in inland waters for some time.

The nest is placed on rushes, and the eggs, which sometimes number as
many as thirteen, are greenish buff, and are said to hatch after about
twenty-three days’ incubation.

The adult male has the crest, head, and neck purplish black; speculum
white. Under parts, including the flanks, snow white. Bill slate grey;
eye golden yellow; legs bluish. In the eclipse plumage it becomes much
browner, somewhat resembling the female.

The female is sooty brown above and greyish brown below, and her crest
is much shorter than that of the male. At the end of summer she becomes
white round the base of the bill for two or three months, but
individuals vary much in this respect. The young resemble the female,
and have a whitish forehead. Length 17·25 in.; wing 8 in.



                             THE SCAUP DUCK
                       Fuligula marila (Linnæus)


Breeding in the far north of Europe this species visits us in
considerable numbers during the winter, feeding on molluscs, crustacea,
and small fish, which are plentiful on our low, flat, alluvial shores.
It goes about in large flocks, and although obtaining much of its food
by diving, it is also fond of feeding on the soft ooze left bare by the
receding tide. The note is a harsh “scaup.”

It is only during the last two or three years that it has been proved
beyond doubt to nest in a particular locality in Scotland, where it is
strictly preserved.

The nest is placed among stones or rough grass near some pool or mere,
and the eggs, which are pale greenish grey, are usually about ten in
number.

The male has the whole of the head, neck, breast, and upper parts black,
the mantle being thickly vermiculated with white. Under parts white;
bill greyish blue; eyes pale yellow; legs bluish. The female has those
parts which are black in the male dull brown, and the vermiculations on
the back are very scanty. There is a white band round the base of the
bill. The young resemble the female, and immature Drakes do not acquire
their full plumage for two or three years. Length 19 in; wing 8·5 in.

                [Illustration: TUFTED DUCK
                _Fuligula cristata_]



                          THE GOLDEN-EYE DUCK
                      Clangula glaucion (Linnæus)


Breeding in Northern Europe, this species generally arrives here in
October, and may be found sparingly on inland rivers and lakes, as well
as in estuaries, becoming commoner in the north. In food and general
habits it much resembles the preceding species, but its nest is placed
in holes of trees at some distance from the ground, the old hole of a
Black Woodpecker being frequently made use of in Scandinavia. The Lapps,
in order to obtain the eggs of this and other kindred species, place
nest-boxes in the pine and birch woods, the majority of which are
tenanted by this species. The eggs, about twelve in number, are bright
green. It has never been known to nest with us.

The male has the head and upper neck glossy greenish black, with a
conspicuous white oval patch under each eye; the rest of the upper
parts, except the scapulars, black; scapulars, a large wing patch, and
under parts white. Bill bluish black. Legs yellow, with black webs. The
female has the black parts in the male replaced by greyish brown, and
the white wing patch is much smaller in extent. The white spot below the
eye is absent. The neck and breast are greyish. The young resemble the
female. Length 18·5 in.; wing 8·25 in.



                         THE BUFFEL-HEADED DUCK
                       Clangula albeola (Linnæus)


Only two or three examples of this North American species have been
obtained in this country. In general coloration it bears a distant
resemblance to the Golden-eye, but the male may be recognised by the
presence of a large triangular white patch on the head, having its apex
at the back of the eye. The female is a dull-coloured bird of various
shades of brown. Length 15 in.; wing 6·75 in.



                          THE LONG-TAILED DUCK
                      Harelda glacialis (Linnæus)


Like many other of our Ducks this is a species which breeds in the north
and only visits us in winter. It is fairly common in the north of
Scotland and adjoining islands, and there is some evidence that it may
occasionally have stayed to breed in the Shetlands. On the east of
England immature examples are sometimes shot, especially in severe
winters, and the same may be said for the north of Ireland. Over the
rest of our islands it is decidedly a rare bird.

Like most Diving Ducks, its food consists of crustaceans and molluscs,
and during the winter it is rarely found inland; in the breeding season,
however, it frequents small meres and ponds, feeding largely on aquatic
vegetation.

The nest is placed near the water on the ground, and warmly lined with
down. The eggs are of a bluish green colour.

In its plumage this species is somewhat peculiar. It assumes in October
a black-and-white plumage, in which the head and neck are white except
for a brownish grey patch on the cheeks and an oval patch of dark brown
on each side of the neck. The upper parts, breast, wing coverts, and
central tail feathers, which latter are much elongated, are black. The
scapulars, secondaries, outer tail feathers, and under parts white. Bill
black, with pinkish band. Legs lead grey. In April, just previous to the
breeding season, the white portions of the upper parts are changed, and
become of various shades of brown or tawny. The female lacks the
elongated tail feathers, is duller, and has the white portions brownish;
otherwise she resembles the Drake and undergoes similar changes of
plumage. Length, inclusive of tail, 25 in.; wing 8·8 in.



                           THE HARLEQUIN DUCK
                    Cosmonetta histrionica (Linnæus)


Iceland is the nearest breeding resort of this species, which nests also
in Eastern Siberia, and only three or four examples have occurred on our
coasts.

It is a very peculiarly marked Duck; the general colour above is bluish
black, with a white spot at the base of the bill and behind each ear; a
white line runs backwards over the crown, and another down the sides of
the neck. A white ring, bordered with black, encircles the lower neck,
and there is another similar one across the breast; the under parts are
dark greyish brown. Length 17 in.; wing 8 in.



                             THE EIDER DUCK
                     Somateria mollissima (Linnæus)


This exclusively Sea-Duck is not uncommon from Northumberland
northwards, where it is resident, and breeds in all suitable localities;
but over the rest of our coasts it is rare, and only met with
occasionally.

In food and habits it calls for no special comment. The nest is placed
usually on low rocky islets among the herbage or in crevices of the
rocks, but it is sometimes found at considerable distances from the
water and often at some height above the sea. Five is the usual number
in a clutch, the eggs being large, somewhat pointed, and greenish grey
in colour. This bird is famous for the down with which its nest is
lined, and on this account is stringently protected in many places
abroad. The first two nests are generally taken, the Duck being allowed
to hatch her third clutch unmolested.

The Drakes are extremely handsome birds. The head and neck are black,
with the exception of a white line running backwards from the crown to
the nape, which is green. The cheeks, back wing coverts, and long
sickle-shaped secondaries (characteristic of the Eider Ducks) white.
Wings, rump, and tail black; breast warm buff. Rest of under parts
black. Bill and legs greenish. In the “eclipse” plumage the whole of the
head and white portions of the body (except the wing coverts) become
dull brownish black. The female is rufous buff, with darker bars. Length
23 in.; wing 11 in.



                             THE KING EIDER
                    Somateria spectabilis (Linnæus)


Essentially an Arctic species, and rarely wandering south even in
winter, this species is a somewhat scarce visitor to our shores, though
a good many examples have been taken, especially in the north. The large
raised orange tubercle at the base of the bill and the dark clear-cut V
mark underneath the chin, form fairly distinctive characters by which
this species may be recognised, though an imperfect V mark is sometimes
found on the Common Eider. The sickle-shaped secondaries are black and
not white, as in the Common Eider. The female is smaller, but otherwise
resembles the Common Eider, though on close examination she may be
distinguished by the shape and extent of the backward prolongation of
the beak sheath. Length 21 in.; wing 10·5 in.



                            STELLER’S EIDER
                      Somateria stelleri (Pallas)


This is an Arctic species, nesting sparingly in Europe and more commonly
on the tundras of Eastern Siberia. It is not very rare on the coast of
Norway in winter, where many migrate westwards. Two examples only have
been obtained in Great Britain.

It is the smallest of our Eiders. The male has the head white, with a
bluish black patch across the occiput and on the chin. The rest of the
upper parts are bluish black, except the falcate secondaries, which are
striped with white. Under parts rufous chestnut. The female, except in
size, is very like the Common Eider, but darker. Length 18 in.; wing 8·5
in.



                           THE COMMON SCOTER
                         Œdemia nigra (Linnæus)


This species, except during the breeding season, is almost exclusively a
Sea-Duck, spending most of its time some distance out at sea, only
approaching the shallower water near the shore for food, and rarely
entering bays or estuaries, except under stress of weather.

It is very common round all our coasts, but commonest, perhaps, in the
North Sea, where flocks of many thousands may often be seen during the
winter months.

The main breeding grounds are the wide tundras of Northern Europe and
Siberia, but a few pairs nest in the north of Scotland. The nest is
usually placed on an islet in a small lake or mere, and composed of a
few tufts of moss and heather lined with down. The eggs, eight or nine
in number, are yellowish white in colour. As a rule it is a silent
species, but during the breeding season the male utters a flute-like
“tui, tui, tui.”

                [Illustration: COMMON SCOTER
                _Œdemia nigra_]

The male of this species is of a deep black all over, whence it is often
locally known as the “Black Duck.” Bill black with a bright patch of
orange yellow down the centre of the upper mandible. The female and
young are sooty brown and lack the orange on the bill. Length 20 in.;
wing 9 in.



                           THE VELVET SCOTER
                         Œdemia fusca (Linnæus)


This species closely resembles the last in habits, but is much scarcer
round our coasts and generally keeps farther out to sea.

It is a rather larger bird than the Common Scoter, and of a dense
velvety black, with a small white spot behind each eye and a white bar
across the wing. The bill is orange yellow, with a large black basal
knob and a narrow dark line along the culmen. Legs orange. The female is
brown, rather lighter underneath, and has a dull white patch before, and
a smaller one behind, each eye. Bill dark. Legs reddish. Length 22 in.;
wing 10·75 in.



                            THE SURF SCOTER
                     Œdemia perspicillata (Linnæus)


This North American species has on several occasions occurred on our
coasts.

The male may be at once distinguished from the other Scoters by the
presence of a broad patch of white on the forehead and another on the
nape. In the female the nape patch is present though often indistinct.
There is no white bar across the wing. Length 21 in.; wing 9·5 in.



                             THE GOOSANDER
                       Mergus merganser, Linnæus


The Goosander is the first of the three species of “Sawbills” that are
found in this country. Unlike other Ducks, the bill is moderately long
and narrow, and both mandibles have a very rough toothed surface
enabling them easily to secure and hold their prey, which consists
entirely of fish. They are all expert divers. On the east coast of
England this species is not uncommon during the winter months,
frequenting estuaries and freshwater lakes, but in the south and west it
is of irregular occurrence. In Scotland it is known to nest in a few
localities, but on the west coast and in Ireland it is decidedly rare.
The nest is placed down a hole among rocks, or in a tree, and in Sweden
and Lapland it makes extensive use of the nest-boxes put up for it and
other species by the Lapps. The eggs, which may be as many as thirteen
in number, are creamy white. The note is a very harsh “kaar,” and when
swimming this bird is not unlike a Cormorant in general outline. When
wounded it will always attempt to escape by diving.

The male has the head and neck dark glossy green; back and scapulars
brown, passing to grey on the rump; wing coverts white; lower neck and
under parts creamy white, tinged with pink in the living bird. Bill and
legs red. The female is rufous brown on the head, greyish on the upper
parts and flanks, and buffish white below. She is rather smaller than
the male. The young resemble the female. Length 25 in.; wing 11 in.



                       THE RED-BREASTED MERGANSER
                        Mergus serrator, Linnæus


Nearly allied to the preceding species, the Merganser is fairly common
round our shores in winter, and nests in considerable numbers in
Scotland, both on lakes and tarns, as well as on the coasts in the north
and west. In Ireland it is a very common resident, breeding especially
abundantly on the west coast. In habits and food it resembles the
Goosander, but is less frequently found inland and far more partial to
the sea than that species. The nest is not placed in a hole but in thick
cover at no great distance from water; the eggs, generally about ten in
number, are of a pale greenish drab and are never of that creamy tint
which distinguishes those of the former species. In these Ducks the male
apparently helps the female in attending on the young and in catching
the small fry on which they live.

Although smaller, this species is not unlike the Goosander; the male may
always be recognised by his reddish breast, streaked with black; the
wing patch is white, barred with black, and on the breast at the point
of the wing there is a conspicuous tuft of white feathers, with black
margins; the long falcated inner scapulars are black. The female has a
distinct black bar across the wing patch, but in other respects, except
size, closely resembles the Duck Goosander. Length 24 in.; wing 9·5 in.



                                THE SMEW
                        Mergus albellus, Linnæus


This species, the smallest and scarcest of the Sawbills, only comes to
us in the winter, its breeding haunts being near the limit of tree
growth throughout Northern Europe. It may be found on inland rivers and
lakes, as well as in sheltered bays and estuaries on the coast. Immature
examples with a red head, known as “Red-headed Smews,” far out-number
the adults, and old males in full plumage are rarely seen.

This is one of the species that occupies the boxes in Sweden and
Lapland, and the discovery of its eggs, fifty years ago, was due to the
energy and perseverance of an Englishman, John Wolley, who, after four
years’ search, succeeded in obtaining three eggs together with a sitting
bird. The eggs are cream coloured and not unlike those of the Wigeon,
but they are slightly smaller.

                [Illustration: RED-BREASTED MERGANSER
                _Mergus serrator_]

The adult male is entirely white, except for the mantle and quills,
which are jet black. The rump, upper tail coverts, and tail are bluish
grey, and the flanks delicately vermiculated with the same colour.
Stretching half-way across the breast is a narrow black bar, and a
shorter but broader one starts a little farther back. There is a black
patch between the bill and the eye on each side, and another high up on
the occiput joining its fellow on the opposite side, this black crescent
being broken by the overlapping of the slightly elongated feathers of
the head.

The “eclipse” plumage somewhat resembles that of the immature male, from
which it may always be distinguished by the mantle remaining black. The
female is smaller; head and neck reddish brown; remainder of upper parts
and breast ashy grey; under parts white. Length 17·5 in.; wing 7·6 in.



                          THE HOODED MERGANSER
                       Mergus cucullatus, Linnæus


This is a North American species, which has only very rarely visited our
shores. It may be distinguished by a semicircular crest or hood over the
head, the posterior half of which is white, with a dark edge. The
general colour is dark brown above and white below. Length 19 in.; wing
7·75 in.



                            THE WOOD PIGEON
                       Columba palumbus, Linnæus


Whereas in the case of many species one has to record their increasing
scarcity and approaching extermination as far as these islands are
concerned, with the Wood Pigeon the case is very different. Nesting in
the woods throughout the country, where, owing to strict preservation,
trespassers are forbidden and raptorial birds shot, this species has of
late years increased with amazing rapidity and may be found in winter in
flocks of thousands, which often do considerable damage to the crops.
Although as a rule very shy and wary, it becomes in towns, where it is
unmolested, absurdly tame, and it may now be found in the London parks
and squares disputing with the omnipresent Sparrow the crumbs of bread
thrown out by passers-by. It is curious and interesting to note that it
is very conservative in its habits, rarely settling on any of the
buildings like the wild domestic Pigeons, which are descended from the
Rock Dove, but always keeping to the trees and gardens, leaving its tame
relative in undisputed possession of the streets and buildings. On one
occasion at least it deigned to avail itself of civilisation, for a nest
was recently found in one of the parks composed almost entirely of
ladies’ hairpins.

The nest is usually placed on a tree, but sometimes in bushes or
hedgerows. It is made of twigs laid loosely on each other, and is such a
flimsy structure that one would never imagine it capable of forming an
efficient nursery for so large a bird. Two eggs only are laid, which, as
with all Pigeons, are pure white. Two or three broods are often reared
in the season, both sexes taking their turn at incubation and rearing
the young.

Pigeons when first hatched are covered with coarse yellowish down and
are very helpless; they are fed for the first ten days on a sort of soft
curd known as Pigeon’s milk, which is secreted in the crop, or is, as
has been stated, the secretion of two glands placed on each side near
the crop, but this latter point requires confirmation. They are fed by
regurgitation, the young bird inserting its beak into that of the
parent.

The note of the Wood Pigeon is a soft melodious “cooroo, coo, coo.” When
courting he expands his tail, blows out his crop, and holding his head
high in the air utters his coo; he then bows, and raises his expanded
tail. His hen, who usually shows but little enthusiasm over the display,
has probably moved a little farther off, and the display ends with an
awkward hop towards her.

The flight is rapid and sustained, but in the nesting season, and
occasionally at other times, an upward soaring flight is indulged in
over their nesting home. Its food consists chiefly of grain, seeds,
beechmast, and acorns; but at certain seasons, especially when the snow
is on the ground, large quantities of green food are eaten, tender
turnip tops being much sought after.

The adult is a delicate bluish grey all over, having a violet green
metallic patch on the sides of the neck, bounded on each side by a patch
of white. The breast is a rich vinous purple. Tail and wing feathers
nearly black. Bill yellow; legs red. The sexes are alike; and the young
resemble their parents, but are duller in colour and lack the metallic
and white patch on the sides of the neck. Length 17 in.; wing 10 in.



                             THE STOCK DOVE
                         Columba œnas, Linnæus


The Stock Dove is rather smaller and considerably less common than the
previous species, but is nevertheless by no means uncommon in England,
and has greatly increased of late years, especially in Scotland. In
Ireland it is still a rare and local species. The name “Stock Dove” is
not due, as many erroneously suppose, to its being the race from which
our domestic Pigeons spring, but to its habit of nesting in the stocks
and boles of old timber. Such places are, however, by no means
exclusively used, for it also nests in caves, ledges of cliffs, and
rabbit-burrows. Otherwise its habits are not materially different from
those of the Wood Pigeon. As a rule it goes about in pairs, and large
flocks are never met with, even when migrating from its more northerly
breeding quarters.

It is a smaller and duller bird than the Wood Pigeon, lacking the white
spot on the neck; while the vinous purple on the breast is not nearly so
bright. There are traces of two indistinct wing bars. Length 13·5 in.;
wing 8·8 in.

                [Illustration: STOCK DOVE
                _Columba œnas_]



                             THE ROCK DOVE
                      Columba livia, J. F. Gmelin


The Rock Dove is the original species from which most of our domestic
varieties have been derived. It is only on the wildest and most
inaccessible parts of our coast that this species can now be found in
its pure state, as in all the more inhabited portions it has become
interbred with feral domestic birds. It is a resident with us, breeding
in caves along the coast, although on the Continent it also frequents
inland and mountainous regions. The nest, built of sea-weed, is placed
on a small ledge near the roof of a cave, those into which the sea comes
up with each tide being chosen by preference.

They breed very early, and at least two broods are reared in a season,
and in small caves which are only tenanted by one pair, two nests may
often be found and are used alternately, the second clutch being usually
laid before the young of the first brood are ready to fly. It is worthy
of note that in this and many other species, where for the young to move
from the nest before they are fledged would mean instant death, they
remain actually in the nest itself till fully fledged, and do not take
their first flight till they are almost as strong on the wing as the old
birds.

This habit is in marked contradistinction to Rooks and many other small
birds that leave the nest and perch on the branches round, long before
they can fly. The Gulls form also another example, as by nature they
would and do run from the nest, if the nest is on the ground, but if
placed on a narrow ledge they hardly move from it until fully fledged.

In habits this bird resembles the other Pigeons; though its method of
courting, which must be well known to most people, is slightly
different. The male has a curious habit, shared also by the Stock Dove,
of driving the hen for a few days before she lays. On these occasions
his whole time is spent in keeping her on the move, and he never lets
her settle or rest for a minute except on the nest.

The sexes are alike, and pale grey all over, except the rump, which is
white. Across the wing are two distinct and clear-cut black bars, while
the metallic patch on either side of the neck is rather more extensive
than in the Stock Dove. Length 14 in.; wing 8·8 in.



                            THE TURTLE DOVE
                         Turtur communis, Selby


This small species is only a summer immigrant with us, arriving early in
May and leaving again for its winter home in Southern Europe and Africa
in September. In England it is a common and widely distributed species,
but in Scotland and Ireland it is rare, only occurring on migration,
though it may sometimes have nested in the former country.

                [Illustration: TURTLE DOVE
                _Turtur communis_]

It frequents woods, coppices, and tall hedgerows, constructing a frail
nest of twigs on which to lay its two white eggs. It feeds on seeds and
grain, gathering in large flocks in the open fields in autumn before
migrating. The note is a prolonged purring “coo.”

The male has the head, nape, wing coverts, rump, and flanks bluish ash,
and a patch of black feathers tipped with white on each side of the
neck. Rest of the back dark brown with broad rufous edges to each
feather. Throat and breast pale vinaceous, rest of under parts white.
Tail feathers dark brown, tipped with white. Length 11·25 in.; wing 6·8
in.


A single example of the Rufous Turtle Dove (_Turtur orientalis_, Latham)
was obtained near Scarborough. It inhabits India and the East, and
hardly differs from our common species, but may be distinguished by its
slaty blue rump.



                          PALLAS’ SAND GROUSE
                     Syrrhaptes paradoxus (Pallas)


The real home of this species is east of the Caspian, spreading through
Asia to Mongolia and Southern Dauria. On several occasions during the
last fifty years Europe has witnessed an extraordinary immigration of
these birds, which spread westwards in countless numbers. The first wave
to reach our islands arrived during the latter half of 1859, and four
years later a larger invasion took place, the birds spreading throughout
the country. The largest immigration, however, took place in 1888, in
which year several pairs nested with us in Yorkshire and other places.
In 1889 a special Act of Parliament was passed for their protection, but
it came too late, for by that date they had all been slaughtered or had
left for more peaceful localities.

The eggs are two in number and of a warm stone buff colour, with
purplish blotches; they are laid in a depression in the ground with no
attempt at a nest. Their food consists almost entirely of seeds and
grain. The general colour is yellowish buff, greyer on the head and
barred on the back with black. Under parts greyish buff, mottled on the
gorget and banded on the belly with black. Feathers of the vent and feet
white. The female and young are duller and more uniformly spotted.
Length 14·75 in.; wing 9·1 in.



                            THE CAPERCAILLIE
                       Tetrao urogallus, Linnæus


Although originally an inhabitant of Great Britain, this species became
extinct over a hundred years ago from causes which are by no means
clear. In 1837 it was introduced into Perthshire and a few other
districts in Scotland, where it has increased largely, and is at the
present time gradually spreading southwards through the pine, oak, and
birch forests.

It is essentially a forest-haunting species, rarely, if ever, wandering
far from the woods, where its call of “peller, peller, peller,” may be
continually heard during the spring months, and sometimes again in
autumn.

Like most game birds, it is polygamous, and an old cock is very jealous
of his hens, savagely attacking other males that come near him. When
courting he performs various evolutions, drooping his wings and erecting
his tail, and calling out vigorously at the same time. Their food
consists chiefly of various seeds and berries, and in their season the
tender shoots of the Scotch fir.

The nest is merely a “scrape” in the ground, generally at the foot of a
tree, and the eggs, some twelve in number, are reddish brown spotted and
blotched, with darker shades of the same colour. The young feed largely
on insects and worms, and are especially fond of ants. The male takes no
part in the incubation or tending of the young.

The male is very dark grey on the upper parts, breast glossy green, and
the remainder of the under parts black. The feathers of the chin and
throat are elongated. Length 36 in.; wing 16 in.

The female, who is much smaller, is brownish all over, mottled and
barred with buff and white. Length about 26 in.



                            THE BLACK GROUSE
                         Tetrao tetrix, Linnæus


On the moors and woods of Scotland this is a common species, and it is
also found locally in a few places in the west of England, but in some
of its other English haunts, notably the New Forest, it has died out.

Like the Capercaillie, they are polygamous, and gather together in
spring, the cocks fighting and showing off in a variety of evolutions to
the hens. Eventually each cock retires with his hens, and breeding
commences in earnest. The nest is merely a scrape in the heather or on
the outskirts of a wood, and the eggs, generally ten in number, are
yellowish, spotted with reddish brown. The young feed chiefly on
insects, but when adult, grain, berries, and the tender shoots of many
plants constitute their diet. In autumn they visit the harvest-fields in
large numbers at daybreak and dusk. The adult male is bluish black all
over, with white under tail coverts and a white wing bar. Length 22 in.;
wing 10·5 in. The female, usually known as the “Greyhen,” is of a warm
brown, barred and marked with black.



                             THE RED GROUSE
                       Lagopus scoticus (Latham)


This is the only exclusively British species which is found nowhere
else—if we except the local races of many of the smaller birds, which
can only be distinguished on a very close examination. Our Grouse
differs from the “Ryper” of Norway, which is its nearest ally, by its
black primaries, and in the fact that it does not assume a white dress
in winter.

                [Illustration: RED GROUSE
                _Lagopus scoticus_
                Male (left). Female (right)]

It inhabits moorlands from the limit of heather growth to the
coast-line, and is generally and widely distributed throughout Scotland
and the northern half of England, as far south as Glamorganshire in
Wales, but on the east it does not occur south of the Trent. In Ireland
it is fairly well distributed, but not so common as in Scotland.

Unlike the two former species, the Red Grouse is strictly monogamous,
pairing very early in the season, when his call-note of “go back, go
back,” may frequently be heard. The nest is a scrape among the heather,
no materials being added. Ten to twelve eggs form the usual clutch; they
are very handsome, being of a pale ground colour, thickly and profusely
marked with dark reddish brown.

The male waits on the hen during incubation, warning her of the approach
of danger with a sharp “kok, kok, kok.” Their food consists of various
seeds and berries, together with the leaves and shoots of plants, and
the tips of ling and heather; in autumn they also visit the
harvest-fields.

The young are fed on insects. This species keeps, as a rule, in family
parties, only packing together during severe weather in the less exposed
places, but where they are much driven and shot, they are often found in
large flocks.

They vary considerably in their plumage, about which more information is
needed. The male is dark brown, barred with reddish, and is often nearly
black on the breast and whitish on the vent. The female is similarly
coloured, but lighter. Length 16 in.; wing 8·4 in.



                             THE PTARMIGAN
                         Lagopus mutus (Montin)


Closely allied to the Red Grouse, the Ptarmigan is found on the higher
slopes of the Scottish Highlands from Perthshire northwards. Elsewhere
in these islands it is unknown.

In habits and food it hardly differs from the Grouse; the nest is placed
among stones on the ground, and the eggs, except in being rather smaller
and slightly lighter in colour, are undistinguishable from those of that
species.

The Ptarmigan passes through a complicated plumage cycle, having three
distinct plumages; in summer the male is dark brown, vermiculated with
grey on the head, breast, and upper parts. Wings white, tail dark brown,
belly white. The female is pale yellowish brown, barred with dark brown.
In autumn the upper parts become slate grey, finely vermiculated with
dark brown, and in winter both sexes are entirely white, except that the
male has black lores. Length 14·5 in.; wing 7·75 in.

Most of the so-called “Ptarmigan” in our poulterers’ shops are the
Willow Grouse or “Ryper” from Scandinavia and Russia. They may be
distinguished by their larger size and the absence, in the males, of the
black lores.



                              THE PHEASANT
                     Phasianus colchicus (Linnæus)


This species is so well known that we need occupy but little space in
dealing with it.

It is now generally distributed throughout our islands, and was first
introduced into England, to which it is not an indigenous bird, from a
district of South Russia near the Black Sea, at some period previous to
the Norman Conquest. To Scotland and Ireland it was imported during the
latter half of the sixteenth century. During the last hundred years
another species, the Chinese Ring-necked Pheasant, has been imported,
and has so interbred with the original birds that the pure Colchian
Pheasant is hardly ever shot at the present day.

The Pheasant is a woodland bird, roosting on trees and roaming in the
fields during the day in search of its food, which consists chiefly of
grain and seed, but during the summer months many insects are eaten. It
is polygamous, and the nest is placed in thick cover on the ground; ten
to twelve pale brown eggs form the usual clutch. The hen is said to be a
bad mother and to desert her eggs if disturbed, but this has probably
been largely brought about by the artificial conditions under which they
are now kept.

In spite of their size and proportionately short wings, they are strong
fliers, and when well on the wing progress at a considerable pace; if
possible, however, they generally try to escape by running and squatting
low on the ground until closely approached, when they rise with their
well-known “whirr.” The male has a short “crow,” accompanied usually by
a rattling of the wings.

No description of this well-known bird is needed. The Chinese form only
differs from the original breed in having a white ring round the neck.



                             THE PARTRIDGE
                        Perdrix cinerea, Latham


In England the Partridge is an exceedingly abundant species, but in
Scotland and Ireland, although well distributed, it is much more local.
It is strictly monogamous, pairing very early in the year, but nesting
operations are rarely commenced before the end of April or early in May.
The nest is a scrape in some hedge bottom, or on a grassy bank, and
often contains as many as fifteen to twenty eggs, which are somewhat
pyriform in shape, and of a uniform olive brown in colour. This species
chiefly inhabits the open cultivated districts, where it feeds on
various seeds and grain, but in summer insects are largely consumed, and
the young are at first fed on them exclusively.

During the early autumn and winter the various families keep together,
forming the well-known “coveys,” but if the weather be severe these
birds will “pack” in large flocks like Grouse.

                [Illustration: PARTRIDGE
                _Perdix cinerea_]

A description of this well-known bird is hardly necessary. The male
differs from the female in the brighter yellowish chestnut of the head
and greyer neck, and the wing coverts are longitudinally striped with
buff in the male, but in the female they are barred.

In young birds the general tone of the plumage is paler, and the
feathers have a median buff longitudinal stripe. Length 12·5 in.; wing 6
in.



                        THE RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE
                        Caccabis rufa (Linnæus)


This species has been introduced into this country at various times from
1770 onwards, and is now well established in several districts. Its home
on the Continent is the east and south of France, Spain, and
North-western Italy, where it inhabits dry and mountainous districts. In
this country it can only be called common in the East Anglian counties,
though it is also found on both sides of the Thames valley and in some
parts of the Midlands. The damp climate of the west does not suit it,
and attempts to introduce it into Scotland and Ireland have failed.

In food and habits it is somewhat similar to the Common Partridge, but
its habit of running instead of getting on the wing renders it less
desirable as a sporting bird, and its flesh is decidedly inferior. It
lays its eggs in banks or under hedges, well concealed by thick cover,
without any attempt at a nest beyond a slight scrape. The eggs are
yellowish white, speckled with brown, and are slightly larger than those
of the Common Partridge. The note is a harsh “clink, clink, clinkar,”
and the male assists the female in rearing the young.

They are not quite so gregarious as the preceding species, and old
males, except during the breeding season, frequently lead a solitary
existence.

The sexes are alike in plumage, but the male has a blunt spur. The
throat and cheeks are white, bordered with black. Sides of neck and
breast grey, spotted with black. Crown grey; stripe above the eye white.
Rest of upper parts warm rufous brown. Under parts fawn colour; flanks
grey, boldly barred with black and chestnut. Bill and legs deep coral
red.

The young are brown on the throat and breast. Length 13·5 in.; wing 6·22
in.



                               THE QUAIL
                     Coturnix communis, Bonnaterre


This species is only a summer visitor to this country, though examples
have been known to spend the winter with us. Never very abundant, it has
of late years become decidedly scarcer, and can now only be considered
an uncommon and local bird.

Delighting chiefly in dry, broken, uncultivated land, it becomes scarcer
in the north, but has been known to nest as far north as Caithness. The
nest is a “scrape” in the grass, and the seven to twelve eggs are
yellowish white blotched with umber brown. The male has a melodious
call-note, which may be syllabled as “clerk, lik, lik,” to which the
female answers with a soft “peu, peu.” The food consists of grain,
seeds, and insects, and at the times of migration this bird becomes
exceedingly fat and very good eating. The Quails that are found in our
markets are usually snared in Italy during the spring migration, and
used to be sent alive to this country, but they are now killed and sent
dead. It was a migration of this species that supplied the Children of
Israel with food in the desert, and large flocks still pass through
Palestine yearly on migration.

The Quail is not unlike a small Partridge, and is of a uniform sandy
brown on the upper parts, with paler shafts to the feathers. The chin
and throat are white, with two brown crescentic bars, and sometimes a
brown streak down the centre. The breast is buffish and the under parts
white. This species shows a certain amount of variation in minor details
of plumage. Length 7 in.; wing 4·4 in.



                             THE LAND-RAIL
                       Crex pratensis, Bechstein


Grass lands throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland form the summer
home of this well-known and abundant species. It is a migrant, arriving
towards the end of April and leaving our shores again in September,
though a few individuals occasionally remain and pass the winter in
Ireland and some of the western counties of England. It is always more
abundant in the west, and during the last few years has become
comparatively scarce and local in our eastern and south-eastern
counties.

The Rails are birds of poor flight and skulking habits, rarely taking to
their wings unless hard pressed, and even at such times flying but a
short distance with legs hanging down, and soon dropping again into the
nearest cover. Immediately on his arrival the male Land-Rail, or
Corncrake as it is often called, utters his well-known crake—a harsh
“craak, craak,” repeated with monotonous frequency, especially during
the long summer evenings and again before dawn.

The nest is placed in dense cover in the middle of some grass- or
corn-fields; it is a deep “scrape,” generally hollowed out by the cock,
and lined with bents and grass. Eight to ten eggs are the usual clutch;
they resemble those of the Missel Thrush, being greenish white, spotted
and blotched with red, brown, and greyish. The male, who takes no part
in the incubation, is very attentive to his mate, bringing her delicate
tit-bits and accompanying her when she leaves the nest. Their food
consists of worms, slugs, snails, and other insects, as well as grain
and seeds, so that it is practically omnivorous. When the young are
hatched the “craking” ceases, and both parents brood and tend the young.
These when first hatched are jet black, and become fully feathered in
about a month or five weeks, their wing feathers being the last to grow.
Although they can run and leave the nest as soon as hatched, they do not
feed themselves for some days, but take all their food from their
parents’ beaks. If the first clutch of eggs is destroyed the craking
recommences, and a second clutch is laid.

                [Illustration: LAND-RAIL
                _Crex pratensis_]

During the autumn moult this species, in common with the others of its
family, casts all its primaries at once, and is for about ten days
incapable of flight.

In winter it is found throughout Africa as far south as Cape Colony.

In winter the sexes are practically identical, the upper parts being
dark brown, with rufous edgings to the feathers; wing coverts chestnut;
throat and abdomen white; breast pale brown; flanks barred with brown
and buff. After the spring moult the male has part of the head, throat,
and breast ash grey. The female is greyer than in winter, but much
browner than the male, especially on the breast. The young resemble the
adults in winter, but the rufous margins are much broader. Length 10·5
in.; wing 5·25 in.



                           THE SPOTTED CRAKE
                        Porzana maruetta (Leach)


This is a smaller species than the preceding, and is found in marshes
and swamps. They visit us in small numbers every summer, and remain to
breed in suitable localities far more commonly than is usually supposed.
It is, however, a very skulking species and its only note is a low
“kwit, kwit,” so that it is seldom either seen or heard, and the few
birds that are killed on migration are the only evidence we usually get
of its presence. In Scotland it is rarer, but has been found nesting in
Elgin and has occurred on migration in the Shetlands. In Ireland it is a
yearly immigrant, but only a few nests have been found. Except in its
liking for damper places, it resembles the Corncrake in most of its
habits.

The nest is placed in a reed-bed or tussock of sedge, often entirely
surrounded by water. It is formed externally of coarse weeds and lined
with finer materials. The eggs, usually eight to ten, are olive buff,
spotted and flecked with reddish brown. The young when first hatched are
black and take to the water readily, swimming about with the ease of
young Moor-hens.

The male is greenish brown on the upper parts, the feathers having
darker centres as well as a few small white spots; breast brown, spotted
with white; rest of under parts grey; flanks barred with brown. This
bird shows no great differences in plumage, the sexes and young being
much alike. Length 9 in.; wing 4·5 in.



                            THE LITTLE CRAKE
                         Porzana parva, Scopoli


The little Crake is a migrant breeding in Central Europe. To Great
Britain it is a very rare straggler, and has only been taken about a
dozen times, and only one instance is noted from both Scotland and
Ireland.

                [Illustration: WATER-RAIL
                _Rallus aquaticus_]

It is a rather smaller bird than the preceding species, from which it
may be readily distinguished by the absence of spots on the throat or
breast. Length 8 in.; wing 4·2 in.



                            BAILLON’S CRAKE
                      Porzana bailloni (Vieillot)


This species has only been met with in these islands on the spring and
autumn migrations; on one or two occasions it has been recorded as
having bred in the eastern counties, but although there is no great
improbability about this, British-taken eggs have never been thoroughly
authenticated. On the Continent it breeds freely in Western Europe, from
Holland southwards as far east as North Italy.

In plumage it closely resembles the Little Crake, from which it may
always be distinguished by having the outer web of the first primary
white. Length 7 in.; wing 3·45 in.



                             THE WATER-RAIL
                       Rallus aquaticus, Linnæus


This species is tolerably abundant throughout Great Britain wherever
swamps and sedge or reed-beds are sufficiently large to afford it cover.
It is most abundant in winter, when our native birds receive large
additions from the Continent, especially during severe weather.

During the breeding season it is very noisy, making a loud and peculiar
noise, known in some localities as “sharming.” Extremely loth to take
wing, but swimming, and diving with great facility, it is very difficult
to get a sight of this bird, except during severe weather, when the
cover is more scanty, and lack of food compels it to leave its usual
haunts. The nest is placed in a thick tuft of sedge or reeds and is a
deep cup-shaped structure of flags; the eggs are pale creamy white,
flecked with a few reddish spots, and are seven to nine in number. The
food consists of worms, snails, and other aquatic insects and plants.

The adult has the back dark brown, with broad olive brown margins to the
feathers; cheeks, neck, and breast lead grey; vent buff; flanks black,
barred with white. Bill red. Length 11·5 in.; wing 4·75 in.

The young have the under parts dull brownish, barred on the flanks with
dark brown. The female has occasionally some of the wing coverts black,
barred with white, but this is a very variable feature. This species is
subject to considerable differences in size and also in the intensity of
colouring on the beak, breast, and under parts.



                              THE MOOR-HEN
                     Gallinula chloropus (Linnæus)


This is the commonest, tamest, and best known of the Rails, and occurs
abundantly throughout the British Isles wherever some water surrounded
by cover is found, even though it be a small ditch or pond. It has even
penetrated into the heart of London, and may be watched as it comes out
to pick up the crumbs thrown by the passer-by, and takes them back to
her young concealed in the rushes. Their food consists of insects,
worms, slugs, aquatic vegetation, and a certain amount of grain. In some
districts considerable damage is done in early spring to the watercress
beds, the fresh tender shoots being nipped off as soon as they start to
grow.

                [Illustration: MOOR-HEN
                _Gallinula chloropus_]

In April several nests are partially begun; these are generally situated
in clumps of sedge or rushes, but are sometimes built under bushes, or
even trees, at some height above the ground. In one of these
partially-built structures the eggs will be laid, and as soon as the
site has been definitely chosen a considerable amount of material is
added, and the higher leaves of the sedge are often bent over so as to
conceal it from above. The young when first hatched are black, with the
base of the beak bright red like that of their parents, but after about
a fortnight this colour is lost, the beak and frontal plate becoming
brownish green. The first few weeks are spent entirely on the water or
in the thick cover fringing the banks of a pond or stream, and at such
times the half-completed nests are utilised as nurseries on which to
brood the young. Both parents feed and tend the young, and on the
approach of danger safety is sought by diving. When swimming the
Moor-hen proceeds slowly, with a curious bobbing motion of the head and
neck, and on land, when undisturbed, it walks slowly, raising its tail
at every step and thus displaying the white under tail coverts; if
alarmed, however, it lowers its head and runs with considerable rapidity
and shows no white whatever. It remains on the ground all day and roosts
at night among the sedges and rushes, but in frosty weather it
invariably roosts on trees.

The sexes are much alike: the upper parts dark olive brown; head, neck,
and under parts bluish grey; the flank feathers streaked with white,
under tail coverts white. Bill bright red at the base, with yellow tip
in summer; dull olive brown in autumn and early winter. Legs greenish
yellow. The young have the chin white, under parts greyish brown; they
are also greyer on the back than the adults. Length 13 in.; wing 6·75
in.



                                THE COOT
                          Fulica atra, Linnæus


The Coot is found on most of the open sheets of water throughout the
country; it differs from its other congeners in being far less skulking
and spending most of its time out on the open water, and procures much
of its food by diving. Its feet are lobed, that is to say, have flat
extensions of the skin which is constricted at the joints, down all the
toes.

The nest is a huge structure of reeds and rushes placed well away from
the shore, in a small clump of reeds, and the eggs, which number seven
to ten, are very pale stone colour, minutely speckled and dotted with
dark brown. The young bird when first hatched is black except for his
head, which is sparsely covered with coarse down-like hairs of a red and
orange tint.

Its food consists of aquatic insects and vegetation, as is the case with
the Moor-hen. In winter, although a resident, it collects in large
flocks, and many visit the bays and estuaries round the coast, receiving
considerable additions to their numbers from the Continent. The Coot is
extremely wary and difficult to approach, taking wing on the least sign
of danger; it flies well and fast, carrying its legs stretched out
behind, but has to run along the surface of the water for some distance
before it can rise. The sexes are alike and have the whole of the
plumage sooty black, with a narrow white bar across the wing. Bill and
frontal plate white; legs dark green. Length 15 in.; wing 8·5 in.

Although as a rule this bird casts its primaries at once, this is not
invariably the case, as it sometimes moults them in pairs like the
majority of birds.



                               THE CRANE
                        Grus communis, Bechstein


Three centuries or more ago the Crane bred regularly in our eastern
counties, and for long afterwards it used to appear as a regular migrant
every winter. At the present time, however, it is an extremely scarce
and irregular visitor. It still breeds in Southern Scandinavia and
thence southwards and eastwards throughout the whole of Europe. Its
general colour is dark slaty grey, devoid of any markings. The inner
secondaries are long and drooping and conceal the tail. The adults have
a red warty patch on the crown. Length 45 in.; wing 21 in.



                           THE GREAT BUSTARD
                          Otis tarda, Linnæus


In the early part of the sixteenth century the Great Bustard was well
known and widely distributed throughout the moors and plains of England
and the lowlands of Scotland. The increasing population, and cultivation
of waste lands, gradually diminished localities suitable to its habits,
and in 1838 the last eggs of our indigenous birds were taken.

At intervals irregular wanderers still occur in different parts of our
islands, and several attempts to reintroduce this fine species in recent
years have failed. In Spain, parts of Germany, and Southern Russia, this
species is still to be found as a resident and breeding bird, but over
the rest of Europe it is only known as an irregular visitor.

The male has the head bluish grey; rest of upper parts brownish buff,
barred with black; wing coverts white; quills blackish. Breast banded
with chestnut and grey; belly white. Length 43 in.; wing 24 in.

The female is smaller and lacks the band on the breast.



                           THE LITTLE BUSTARD
                          Otis tetrax, Linnæus


The Little Bustard is only a scarce visitor, and has most frequently
occurred on our southern and eastern coasts. It is a south European
species, but breeds regularly on the plains of France, where it arrives
in April and leaves in September.

The general colour of both sexes is sandy brown, streaked and
vermiculated with black on the upper parts; the under parts are chiefly
white. In summer the male has the throat and upper breast black, shading
to grey on the chin, and crossed with irregular white bars. Length 17
in.; wing 9·5 in.



                           MACQUEEN’S BUSTARD
                       Otis macqueeni, J. E. Gray


This is an Eastern species, breeding from Asia Minor eastwards towards
the Caspian and Aral Seas, and has only occurred on two or three
occasions in these islands.

This species may be recognised by having a crest of white feathers
tipped with black, and a blackish ruff on the sides of the neck. The
rest of the plumage above is buff, vermiculated with black, and the
under parts are white. Length 38 in.; wing 15·5 in.



                            THE STONE-CURLEW
                   Œdicnemus scolopax (S. G. Gmelin)


The Stone-Curlew is a summer visitor to this country, frequenting wild,
sandy “brecks,” and undulating chalky downs. It is therefore a somewhat
local species, being commonest perhaps in the “breck” district of
Norfolk and Suffolk; it is also found on the downs of most of the
southern and eastern counties, as well as on the Chilterns and in one or
two other counties to the north, but in the west of England, Scotland,
and Ireland it is entirely absent, and has only occurred on very few
occasions.

Sandy brown in colour, it assimilates so well with its surroundings that
it is very difficult to see, and when approached will often “squat,”
stretching its neck out to its fullest extent, and so escape
observation. It runs with great rapidity and flies strongly, its flight
rather resembling that of a Pigeon, while the white bars on the wing
coverts show up conspicuously. Its food, which is chiefly taken at dusk
and dawn, consists of insects of all kinds, especially beetles.

Living as it frequently does in districts away from water, it journeys
nightly to a favourite watering-place. The note is a loud whistling cry,
which is uttered at night, and during the early spring these birds are
very noisy.

The two eggs are deposited towards the end of April or beginning of May
on the bare ground, a spot where there are many loose stones, among
which they are very difficult to see, being usually chosen. In colour
the eggs are pale clay spotted and streaked with dark brown, those in
the same clutch being often very dissimilar in markings. Both sexes
assist in the duties of incubation and rearing of the young, who, when
first hatched, are pale buff with a longitudinal dark line down each
side of the back. Their legs are much thickened, a feature common to
many Limicoline birds, and this has led to this species being sometimes
known as the “Thick-Knee.” In August old and young gather together in
flocks and shortly afterwards take their departure, though occasionally
individuals have been known to pass the winter in this country.

                [Illustration: STONE CURLEW
                _Œdicnemus scolopax_]

The sexes are alike in plumage. The upper parts are of a uniform sandy
brown, with dark streaks down the centres of the feathers; some of the
wing coverts tipped with white to form two narrow bars. Neck and breast
pale brown streaked with darker. Throat and belly white. There is also a
white stripe under each eye. Bill yellow with a black tip; legs greenish
yellow. Length 16 in.; wing 9·25 in.

The young are similar to their parents but browner, and the tail
feathers are more barred.



                             THE PRATINCOLE
                     Glareola pratincola (Linnæus)


The Pratincole is a native of Northern Africa, Asia Minor, and
Palestine, but it also nests in certain suitable districts in South
Europe, where it is only known as a summer visitor. In England it has
not infrequently been taken on both spring and autumn migrations.

The adult has the upper parts clove brown. Tips of secondaries, tail
coverts, and bases of tail feathers white. Under wing coverts chestnut.
Throat buff, margined with black; breast brownish, turning to white on
the belly. Length 10·5 in.; wing 7·5 in.



                      THE BLACK-WINGED PRATINCOLE
                    Glareola melanoptera (Nordmann)


This is the Eastern form of the above, nesting from the shores of the
Black Sea eastwards to the Altai. Two specimens, which came over in
company with the commoner species, were shot in Kent in June 1903.

It may be recognised by the under wing coverts being black and the
absence of the white tips to the secondaries.



                       THE CREAM-COLOURED COURSER
                   Cursorius gallicus (J. F. Gmelin)


Inhabiting dry and arid regions south of the Mediterranean, this species
has nevertheless wandered up to our islands on several occasions, and
curiously enough always on the autumn migration, between October and
December. The general colour above and below is sandy buff; quills and
under wing coverts blackish. There is a dark stripe behind the eye, and
the nape is bluish black, this colour extending forward to the eye.
Length 10 in.; wing 6·3 in.



                              THE DOTTEREL
                     Eudromias morinellus (Linnæus)


A lonely, bleak and bare wind-swept moorland, where the scanty herbage
is kept short by the elements and the wandering flocks of mountain
sheep; and where the sounds of nature are supplied on most days by the
wind as it rushes down the valleys between the rounded hill-tops, to the
accompaniment perhaps of the Curlew’s wild whistle, or where on the few
calm days in summer a deathly silence prevails, broken only by the
humming of a bee as it visits the purple heather, or the clear “go back,
go back” of the male Grouse. In such a spot one may hear a low
monotonous whistle, or have one’s attention attracted by a small flock
of rapidly flying birds skirting the crest of the hill; these are
Dotterel, and this is their summer home. This bird is extremely, one
might almost say foolishly, tame, though often owing to this tameness it
will escape observation, for, instead of taking wing as we approach, it
will either stand motionless, or running to the far side of some patch
of heather remain unseen, as its colours harmonise so well with the
surrounding heather.

The nest is a mere scrape in a bare spot, and hardly any materials are
brought together, though a few bits of moss and lichen may be arranged
round the eggs. These are three in number and are greenish in colour,
very boldly blotched and marked with brown. Both sexes perform the
duties of incubation and attend to the wants of the young when hatched.

In this country this species is only a migrant, and in September leaves
the hill-tops, and passing through the lower lying counties of England
wings its way to other climes.

The sexes are alike and are sandy brown on the back, with longitudinal
fulvous markings; there is a white stripe over the eye. Chin white;
breast ash brown, bordered with a narrow white transverse band; lower
breast chestnut; belly black. In winter the under parts are pale ash
brown. The young have rufous edgings to the feathers of the back, but
otherwise resemble their parents in winter dress. Length 9 in.; wing 6
in.



                           THE CASPIAN PLOVER
                      Ægialitis asiatica (Pallas)


Two examples of this eastern Plover, which inhabits the Caspian and Aral
Sea region, were obtained near Yarmouth in May 1890.

It is not unlike our Common Ringed Plover, but lacks all the black
markings on the head, and the band across the breast is bright chestnut,
edged along its posterior margin with black. Length 7·5 in.; wing 5·6
in.



                             RINGED PLOVER
                     Ægialitis hiaticola (Linnæus)


Few people can have walked along our shores without having their
attention attracted by the plaintive whistle of this delightful little
bird. It will suddenly be seen flying past, the dark ring showing up in
contrast to its white breast, while as it gets farther away a light line
across the outspread wing will also help to distinguish it. When it
settles, especially if among stones and shingle, we shall have hard work
to see it, while the oft-repeated note, sounding first on one side and
then on the other, and coming apparently from the dark stones
themselves, tends to bewilder us. There is no month in the year when we
cannot find this bird on our shores whatever be the weather—amidst a
howling winter’s gale and driving sleet, or under the blazing summer’s
sun, when we can see the heated air vibrating over the burning stones,
he is still there, apparently absolutely unmoved by the all-powerful
forces of nature. But the time to see him at his best is in May; we are
walking along when suddenly his well-known note strikes our ears, and we
see him running along in front of us; we sit down to watch him and he in
his turn will suddenly stop, and then running to some stone slightly
higher than its neighbours, stand up and watch us. His mate soon joins
him and together they stand, now running a few yards and then turning
round give us another look, while they bob their heads up and down at
the same time with a motion so characteristic of the Plovers. Finally,
seeing that we do not go away they both get up and, calling out as they
do so, fly off; but in a minute or so one of them is back again, sitting
and watching us from his old stand. They have evidently a nest somewhere
near, and equally, evidently, the hen has evaded our vigilance and is
closely sitting on her treasures. Disappointed we rise to go, and on our
doing so the hen rises apparently from the ground within six feet of us
and runs away.

One step, and there on the bare stones are four pear-shaped eggs lying
close packed, with their narrow ends to the centre, and practically
indistinguishable from the shingle on which they lie. In colour they are
pale clay, uniformly covered with black spots and mottlings. As soon as
the birds see that their treasure is discovered they fly round us,
calling out continually till we pass on, leaving the hen to resume her
duties. The young are covered with thick down when hatched, and are
brown, mottled with black on the back; below white, with a black ring
round the chest. They leave the nest as soon as they are hatched, and
very shortly begin to feed themselves on the various spiders, flies, and
other small insects that abound in such places. Both parents carefully
watch and tend them, flying up on the approach of danger, while the
young squat closely on the ground, where they become almost invisible.
Their wings grow when at the age of five weeks, by which time they are
nearly as large as their parents, and are then well able to take care of
themselves and wander away to join the flocks of their own kind, or to
amalgamate with other passing wanderers, and add their cries to swell
the sounds of the shore, which are such a delight to every naturalist.

The sexes are alike in plumage. General colour above pale sandy brown;
below white. Forehead white, succeeded by a black band; lores and band
across chest black. Legs bright yellow; beak black, yellow at its base.

The young resemble the adults, but lack the black band on the forehead;
the chest band is brown concolorous with the upper parts. The legs olive
green.

Generally distributed along the shore and in some inland sandy places
throughout the British Isles.

                [Illustration: RINGED PLOVER
                _Ægialitis hiaticola_
                Male (right). Young (left)]



                        THE LITTLE RINGED PLOVER
                   Ægialitis curonica (J. F. Gmelin)


This species breeds in Scandinavia and throughout Europe, being rather
scarcer in the west. To our shores it is only a very occasional
straggler, not more than half-a-dozen authenticated instances being
known.

It resembles the preceding species, but is rather smaller in size, paler
in colour, and the bill is narrower, longer in proportion, and wholly
black. The best characteristic, however, is that the shafts of all the
primaries, except the outer ones, are dusky, whereas in the Ringed
Plover they are all flecked with white to form a conspicuous bar when
the wing is opened. Length 6·5 in.; wing 4·5 in.



                           THE KENTISH PLOVER
                      Ægialitis cantiana (Latham)


As the Ringed Plover is one of our commonest shore birds, so the present
species is one of our rarest, and it will never be met with unless a
special journey is made to that lonely stretch of shore, which is its
only home in these islands. In habits it is almost the counterpart of
the Ringed Plover, but is a true migrant, arriving in April and leaving
in September. The note is a short monosyllabic whistle and quite
distinct from that of the preceding species.

It is a smaller bird than the Ringed Plover, which it otherwise
resembles, except that the dark band across the chest is broken in the
centre. Female and young resemble the male, but the band on forehead and
chest is brown instead of black, and of the same colour as the upper
parts. Length 6·25 in.; wing 4·25 in.



                          THE KILLDEER PLOVER
                      Ægialitis vocifera (Linnæus)


Only two examples of this American species have been shot in England. It
is a larger bird than any of our other Ringed Plovers, which it somewhat
resembles, but it may be recognised by its rufous rump and upper tail
coverts, a black subterminal bar and white tip to all the tail feathers
except the central pair, and the presence of two narrow black bands
across the breast. Length 9·5 in.; wing 6·5 in.



                             GOLDEN PLOVER
                     Charadrius pluvialis, Linnæus


The home of the Golden Plover is on the lower slopes of those hills the
tops of which the Dotterel takes as his own, for the Golden Plover
prefers the cover afforded by the tall heather and the more abundant and
varied insect diet of the lower lands.

As we walk up the hill we first hear his shrill whistle, and soon see
him coming to meet us. Settling some yards ahead, he pipes his whistle
incessantly, and then as we approach he flies on to some other
upstanding boulder, and so on for perhaps half-a-mile, till, having
escorted us to the limits of the ground over which he claims suzerain
rights, he hands us over to the ruling chief of the next territory; Thus
in a walk over the hillside we find ourselves incessantly accompanied by
one of these birds, whose cry is never out of our ears. We have,
however, only noticed half the game, for the birds that have been
accompanying us are almost always male birds: his duty it is to stand on
some exposed mound while his hen crouches amid the heather on her
precious eggs, four pear-shaped beauties, the black spots and markings
showing up against their greenish ground colour. On the first appearance
of any intruder he will sound his pipe and fly off towards us, while his
mate quietly leaves her eggs, and, flying low, circles round till we see
her apparently coming up from a direction diametrically opposed to that
in which her treasures lie. It will be unavailing for us to lie in wait
hoping to watch her return to the nest, unless we are completely
concealed, for he will keep a close eye upon us, and until his warning
whistle is quiet she will not return. When the young are hatched both
birds meet and follow us, while in response to the warning, the young
squat close to the ground, under some sheltering piece of heather, and
so defy detection. In autumn these birds collect in large flocks, and
though many remain on the moors all the year round, the majority come to
the marshes near the sea and gradually pass southwards.

The sexes are alike in plumage. The whole of the upper parts are dark
brown, with two or more yellow spots on the margins of each feather. The
throat and breast are black, bordered by a clear-cut white line. Bill
and legs black. In winter the black on the throat and chest is replaced
by white, with pale brownish mottlings across the latter. Length 11 in.;
wing 7·5 in.

The young resemble their parents in winter but the yellow is brighter,
and there are traces of yellow across the breast. It is generally
distributed throughout these islands, breeding commonly on the
moorlands, and becoming much more numerous in Scotland.



                        THE LESSER GOLDEN PLOVER
                 Charadrius dominicus, P. L. S. Müller


This species is subdivided into two forms, one of which is found in
Eastern Asia, while the other is an inhabitant of North America.

Examples of both these forms have been shot in the United Kingdom,
although the American form, as might be expected, has occurred the more
frequently of the two.

Both these forms may be distinguished from our common species, which
they closely resemble, in having the axillaries smoke grey instead of
white. Length about 9 in.; wing 6·75 in.

                [Illustration: GOLDEN PLOVER
                _Charadrius pluvialis_
                (left)
                GREY PLOVER
                _Squatarola helvetica_
                (right)]



                              GREY PLOVER
                     Squatarola helvetica (Linnæus)


Very similar to the Golden Plover in general appearance, but the yellow
spots are replaced by whitish, and the hind toe is lacking. A few weeks
in spring and autumn along the shore is all the time this bird spends
with us; he passes the winter in the warm tropics of Africa, wandering
southwards as far as the Cape, and then, obeying some mysterious impulse
of which we can form no conception, he journeys in May northwards, and
passing over many spots, which would to our ignorant eyes afford him
food and shelter sufficient for the rearing of his young, he seeks out
the wild and lonely tundras of Europe and Siberia.

There during the eternal day of an Arctic summer he rears his family,
and as soon as they can fly, old and young are back again on our shores.
For some weeks they remain, slowly passing to the south, and, unlike the
Golden Plover, rarely coming inland; but by the middle of October they
are all back enjoying once more the burning sun of the tropics.

The white tail coverts and absence of the hind toe will prevent any
confusion between this species and the Golden Plover. Length 11·5 in.;
wing 7·75 in.



                          THE SOCIABLE PLOVER
                      Vanellus gregarius (Pallas)


This species is a native of South Russia and the Aralo-Caspian area.
Until a few months ago, when a second example was procured in Kent, it
had only once (in 1860) been taken in England.

The general colour above is drab; crown of the head black, margined with
white. Quills black; secondaries white; tail white, with a subterminal
brown band. Chin white; throat buff; breast brown; belly black; flanks
and under tail coverts deep chestnut. Length 12 in.; wing 8 in.



                              THE LAPWING
                      Vanellus vulgaris, Bechstein


No wild bird has perhaps to pay so large a tribute in eggs and
individuals to man, and yet remains as common and abundant, as the
Lapwing.

Early in March he appears on the marsh or water-meadows, where he or his
parents before him have been accustomed to spend the summer; sometimes
dry fields at some distance from the water are chosen, but as a rule it
is never far from a river, stream, or even a moderate-sized pond.
Although many pairs often nest in the same field, fierce battles take
place between the males for the mates of their choice, but there is more
“show” than strife, lengthy aerial chases with much calling out but very
little serious fighting. Once, however, these early difficulties have
been overcome, the colony settles down in peace, a few ousted pairs
being left to seek some fresh ground.

The nest is merely a shallow platform of roots and bents, placed on a
small hollowed-out “scrape” on the ground. Over the actual choice of a
site there seems to be some difficulty, as many “scrapes” are generally
to be found within a few yards of the spot eventually chosen. Towards
the latter end of March the four pear-shaped eggs, so well known in
poulterers’ shops, are laid, and the hen commences her incubation
duties, which last about nineteen days. During this period her mate
wanders about in the vicinity of the nest, keeping an ever-watchful eye
for any intruder. As soon as we are seen approaching he is up in the
air, flying round with a great noise and performing at the same time a
curious tumble, but recovering himself before touching the ground; after
two or three minutes of these antics however, he goes away, having
apparently no further interest in us or the place. We may then walk
about the field in vain so far as that pair is concerned, for they will
not return to settle while we are there and the eggs are so protectively
coloured that the chances of our seeing them, even if we walk right by
them, are exceedingly remote. While we were watching the male bird
perform his curious antics, the hen, warned by his cries, quietly
slipped off the nest, and flying low skimmed the next hedge and so away,
and he, having watched her safely into a neighbouring field, goes off to
join her and leaves us to find the eggs if we can. If we retire,
however, they will not be long gone; he will soon fly back, and having
ascertained that the danger is over and uttered no warning cry, she will
immediately follow, and settling near the nest, run to it and once more
cover her eggs. When the young are hatched, however, matters are very
different; both birds will then rise, and flying round our heads beseech
us with piteous cries to leave their young alone.

These cries serve the purpose of making the young squat and hide, and
their greyish green down with black mottlings so exactly assimilates in
colour with the ground, that they are almost impossible to see. The
young leave the nest as soon as they are hatched, and utter a feeble cry
not unlike that of the adults; at first their parents feed them most
carefully, picking up grubs, flies, spiders, or any other insect that
comes their way, while the young run up and take it from their beaks,
but in a few days they feed themselves, though still carefully watched
and fed by their parents. When they are full grown, at about six weeks
old, they collect in large flocks and wander over the country. In
October and November enormous flocks come over from the Continent and
settle often for three weeks or a month in a particular field, which is
usually resorted to yearly by these birds. As winter comes on they
wander about according to the weather, wherever they can find suitable
food, but with the first warm days of February the return north begins,
and March finds them back once more in their summer home.

                [Illustration: LAPWING
                _Vanellus vulgaris_
                Adult, summer (right). Young (left)]

The upper parts are of a beautiful metallic green, the crown of the head
and crest being almost black. Quills black, tipped with grey on the
three outer pairs; tail feathers white, with a broad subterminal band of
black on all save the outer pair; breast black; under tail coverts
chestnut; rest of under parts white. In summer the chin and throat are
black. In the female the crest is rather shorter and the outline of the
extended wing is straighter. Length 12·5 in.; wing 8·75 in.

The young bird has buff margins to the feathers of the upper parts.



                             THE TURNSTONE
                     Strepsilas interpres (Linnæus)


Breeding in the Far North as well as on some islands in the Baltic, the
Turnstone is only a migrant to our shores, spending some weeks with us
in autumn and returning again on a flying visit on its way to its
breeding-quarters. A small minority spend the whole winter with us, and
occasionally birds in full nuptial dress have remained in one locality
all through the summer, but its nest has never yet been found in these
islands.

Although it may be met with along almost any part of the coast, it is
most partial to rocky places and spots where shingle banks are found
amongst patches of mud. Its food consists of insects and crustacea of
all kinds, and its name is derived from the habit of turning over stones
for the sake of the insects that are thus exposed.

The nest is generally placed on the sea-shore close to high-water mark,
little rocky islets just off the shore being very favourite localities.
The eggs are four in number and very characteristic of this species,
being greenish grey in ground colour, spirally streaked with brown. It
is a late breeder, rarely having eggs before the beginning of June.

After the nesting season it at once moves southwards, young being met
with on our shores by the middle of August. At this time of year it
collects in small parties of from twenty to forty, and where not
disturbed they are fairly tame and allow their curious method of feeding
to be easily observed.

This bird is very variable in plumage when adult: the head and neck are
variegated with black and white; mantle variegated with chestnut and
black. Rump and under parts white. Tail brown; breast and shoulders
chiefly black. The female resembles the male, but is slightly larger.
Most of the chestnut colouring is lost in winter. The young have the
upper parts brown, the feathers edged with white. Under parts white.
Collar and a patch on each side of the breast dark brown. Length 9 in.;
wing 6 in.



                           THE OYSTER-CATCHER
                     Hæmatopus ostralegus, Linnæus


No one who has been along the shore in winter can have failed to notice
the large flocks of black-and-white birds—Sea Pies as they are often
called—sitting on a sand-spit and, like Canute of old, defying the tide.
There they sit, till, when the water is just about to touch their
feathers, they all rise as though with one mind, and shrieking out their
shrill call as they go, pass along to the next promontory which will
afford them dry foothold for a few minutes longer. Such is the
Oyster-Catcher and such his life, restless as the tide itself near which
he lives. He is a common and abundant bird throughout the year on all
our coasts, feeding more especially on mussels and limpets, which its
powerful wedge-shaped bill enables it to detach from the rocks. Other
food such as crustacea and marine insects are also eaten. Early in
spring the large flocks begin to break up into pairs.

As a rule the nest is on the shingle or the top of a low rock just above
high-water mark, but where the rocks are steep and precipitous it is
placed on the top of the cliff, many feet above the sea-level. In
Scotland they sometimes nest inland along the river banks. The nest is
merely a slight depression round which a few snails’ shells or stones
are laid, and it is to this habit rather than from its food that it owes
the name of Oyster-Catcher. The eggs, two or three in number, are pale
clay, freckled and spotted with black. Incubation is carried on by the
hen, while her mate stands on some point of vantage from where, on the
approach of a stranger, he gives vent to his loud and noisy “keep, keep,
keep,” which is continued until the supposed danger is past. On the
first note of alarm the hen leaves her nest and soon joins in the chorus
with her mate.

The young when first hatched are dark greyish brown, mottled and striped
with black; they are at once taken to the shore and are very carefully
watched over by their parents, who, when the tide is out, take them a
considerable distance below high-water mark. One brood only is reared in
the season, and as soon as the young can fly they begin to gather again
into flocks.

The head and neck, scapulars and mantle, lesser wing coverts and tip of
the tail are black, the rest of the plumage white. Bill orange
vermilion; legs pink. The sexes are alike, and in winter there is a
white crescent round the top and front of the neck, and the bill is
horn-coloured at the tip. The bill is continually growing and so
counteracting the wear and tear to which it is subjected. Length 16 in.;
wing 9·75 in.



                               THE AVOCET
                    Recurvirostra avocetta, Linnæus


If only the amasser of British killed specimens could be exterminated
and the protection laws of this country more rigidly enforced, the
Avocet might once more become a local breeding species in some of our
counties. At present, however, a few birds arrive in our southern and
eastern counties yearly, and it is to be feared that but few live to
cross over to their breeding grounds in Holland. It used formerly to
breed in considerable numbers in the marshes of Kent and Sussex, and
along our flat eastern shores, but on the west and in the north it has
never been more than an extremely rare and local visitor. The nest is
placed on the mud or sand in an estuary, and at no great distance from
the water, and consists merely of a very small collection of dry bents
and grass. The eggs are three to four in number and pale clay in colour,
speckled with black. The note is a clear “kluit,” generally uttered on
the wing, and when disturbed these birds are very noisy. Their food
consists of small insects and crustacea, which are captured by a
sideways motion of its curiously shaped bill. It almost always feeds in
shallow water, and when feeding walks along, slowly moving the bill from
side to side on the surface of the mud. It usually flies high, and from
its coloration and long neck is not unlike a Sheld-Duck when at a
distance, but its clear and loud “kluit, kluit,” soon betrays its
identity.

                [Illustration: OYSTER-CATCHER
                _Hæmatopus ostralegus_
                Summer]

The sexes are alike; the head and back of the neck, scapulars, median
and tertiary wing coverts and some of the primaries black. Rest of the
plumage white. Bill black; legs pale blue. In the young the black
portions are brownish. Length 10 in.; bill 3·2 in.; wing 8·5 in.



                         THE BLACK-WINGED STILT
                    Himantopus candidus, Bonnaterre


This species is only a very scarce straggler to our shores, generally
during the summer months. Its chief breeding grounds are along the
shores of the Danube and Black Sea, and in the marismas of Southern
Spain, whence it migrates to Africa in winter.

In the adult the mantle and wings are greenish black; tail grey; the
rest of the plumage white. Bill black, and the long legs rose pink.
Length 13·6 in.; bill 2·5 in.; wing 9·5 in.; legs 10 in.



                             GREY PHALAROPE
                    Phalaropus fulicarius (Linnæus)


This species only appears as an irregular autumnal visitor on our
south-eastern and southern shores, though it has been obtained both in
Scotland and Ireland. In food and habits it resembles the Red-necked
Phalarope, but its breeding range is more northerly, and is in fact
circumpolar. It is extremely tame, and allows a close approach as it
swims in shallow sheltered places a few feet from the margin of the
shore, beach pools, or inland ponds, where it happens to be.

Its visits to this country are almost always in autumn, when it is in
the grey plumage, which is grey on the back and white beneath, with a
white forehead and a black streak running backwards through the eye.
Bill black. The sexes are alike and the young similar but buffish on the
chest.

A few solitary examples are sometimes seen in nuptial dress during the
spring or very early autumn. In this plumage the head and back are
black, with rufous margins to the feathers; cheeks white; under parts
chestnut. Bill yellow. The male is rather duller in plumage than the
female. Length 8·25 in.; wing 4·9 in.

                [Illustration: GREY PHALAROPE
                _Phalaropus fulicarius_
                (left)
                RED-NECKED PHALAROPE
                _Phalaropus hyperboreus_
                (right)
                Both in winter]



                        THE RED-NECKED PHALAROPE
                    Phalaropus hyperboreus (Linnæus)


The Phalaropes are delightful little birds of very aquatic habits, and
form a splendid instance of how similar environment tends to the
production of similar structure. They may be easily recognised from
other limicoline or wading birds by their very close feathering,
especially on the breast, and their lobed feet, while in the Grey
Phalarope, especially, the bill is somewhat flattened, so that in these
birds we find a tendency towards the flattened bill as in Ducks, lobed
feet as in the Grebes, and the peculiar thick feathers on the breast
characteristic of Petrels and Gulls. The Phalaropes have also another
peculiarity unique among British birds, although shared by several other
groups in different parts of the world, namely that the duties of
incubation and rearing of the young are conducted entirely by the male
bird, and in correlation with this habit the female does all the
courting and is brighter in plumage.

One or two spots in Scotland and Ireland are the only remaining places
in our islands where this delightful bird may be found nesting, and as
an autumn and winter visitor it is decidedly rarer than the preceding
species, and very seldom found inland during the winter months. When
visiting us it will usually be seen swimming in some sheltered tidal
pool or in one of the ditches of the marsh, close to the sea-wall. Its
food consists of small insects and crustacea. At its breeding haunts it
is extremely tame, running about within a few feet of the intruder.

Its summer home is usually on some inland bog, and the nest is placed on
a small tussock in a very wet place, often entirely surrounded by water.
The eggs are four in number, very pyriform in shape, and large for the
size of the bird, but owing to the nest being a deep cup, the surface of
the eggs that has to be actually covered by the bird is comparatively
small.

In colour they are pale olive very thickly spotted and streaked with
black. The male undertakes all the duties connected with the young, the
female taking no notice of the nest after the laying of the last egg.
Frequently the female at the beginning of the breeding season is
accompanied by more than one male, so that it is probable that polyandry
exists in this group, as it has already been proved to do in other cases
where the courting is undertaken by the female.

The call-note is a low “wit, wit, wit.” In summer the head, neck, and
shoulders are lead grey, the back and wings darker, with a mixture of
pale rufous. A bar across the wings white. Sides and front of the neck
chestnut; breast lead grey; chin and rest of under parts white. The male
is rather duller than the female. In winter the forehead crown, and
under parts are white, feathers of the back grey, with white margins.
The young have rufous margins to the feathers of the back, but otherwise
resemble their parents in winter dress. Length 7·5 in.; wing 4·4 in.



                              THE WOODCOCK
                      Scolopax rusticula, Linnæus


The Woodcock is best known in these islands from the vast numbers that
annually arrive during October to pass the winter with us. Although
fairly well distributed at this time of year, they are most abundant in
Ireland and our western counties, where they form one of the chief
objectives of the shooter.

As its name indicates, the Woodcock spends most of its time in woods and
plantations, flying every evening to wet meadows and marshes in the
neighbourhood, where it feeds on worms and other insects, and returning
to the woods before daybreak. On its passage to and from its feeding
ground it always follows certain tracks, which are in consequence often
known as “cock-roads.” Early in March the vast majority take their
departure for their breeding grounds in Northern Europe, but some remain
to nest with us, and of late years its numbers as a breeding species
have considerably increased.

The nest is a slight depression among dead leaves, generally at the foot
of a tree. The eggs are four in number and yellowish white in colour,
blotched with ash grey and reddish brown. When the young are hatched
they are sometimes removed by the parents, the female being said to
carry them by holding them pressed closely to her body between her legs.
In common with all Snipe, the eye is placed far back on the head, and it
has recently been shown that the external aperture of the ear is placed
forwards in front of and below the eye.

The sexes are alike in colour and are reddish brown on the back,
vermiculated with dark brown. The under parts are drab, barred with a
darker shade. There is much individual variation in tint. Length 14·29
in.; wing 7·5 in.

The young resemble their parents, but are rather more barred on the
back.



                      THE GREAT OR SOLITARY SNIPE
                     Gallinago major (J. F. Gmelin)


A few individuals of this species, chiefly immature birds, visit our
south and east counties yearly in autumn. Over the rest of the United
Kingdom it is an exceedingly rare and irregular visitor.

It breeds in Scandinavia and across Northern Europe, extending
southwards into Russia, Poland, and North Germany; over the rest of
Europe east of the Rhone Valley it is common on migration and during the
winter months.

It may be distinguished from the Common Snipe by its larger size,
proportionately shorter legs and bill, and more boldly barred under
parts. It has sixteen or more tail feathers. Length 10·5 in.; bill 2·3
in.; wing 5·5 in.

                [Illustration: WOODCOCK
                _Scolopax rusticula_]



                            THE COMMON SNIPE
                      Gallinago cœlestis (Frenzel)


This bird is found wherever swamps, marshes, and damp meadows suitable
to its habits are still left, and is a common resident throughout Great
Britain, receiving large additions to its numbers from the Continent
every autumn.

Very early in April it begins to nest, making a fairly deep “scrape” in
a damp spot, generally in some rough grass or other cover, and lining it
with a few bents and leaves. The eggs, four in number, as is the case
with all wading birds, are greenish olive, spotted and blotched, often
spirally, with various shades of brown, and there are also a few black
markings near the larger end. The young when first hatched are reddish
chestnut, mottled with black and white.

During the breeding season this species may often be seen “drumming” or
“bleating.” This is a sound much like the “bleating” of a goat, and
considerable doubt as to how it was produced has long existed, although
a Swedish naturalist stated many years ago that it was brought about by
the rapidly vibrating tail feathers as the bird descended at a certain
angle through the air. This has recently been clearly proved as correct
by an English observer, Mr. P. Bahr, who points out that the sound is
produced by the two outer tail feathers, which during the flight are
held out widely separated from the rest of the tail. The sound can be
produced artificially by placing these feathers on a cork and rapidly
whirling them round with a piece of string. During the breeding season
it utters also a loud vocal “chip, chip,” when on the ground, while when
suddenly flushed the alarm-note of “scape, scape” is well known. Its
flight is very rapid and direct when once on the wing, but on first
rising it flies in short zig-zags, offering a very difficult shot.
Sometimes, however, it will “squat” on the approach of danger, and even
on a bare patch of mud becomes almost invisible, so well do its colours
harmonise.

Its method of “squatting” is rather peculiar, for it puts its beak down
and its body and tail well in the air and generally pressed up against
some growing vegetation. In this position the two light dorsal stripes
appear like blades of grass, and all trace of the contour and shape of
the bird is lost.

The sexes are alike in plumage. The general colour above is dark brown,
with a light buff stripe across the crown and two stripes of a similar
colour down the back, which is also mottled with buffish. Cheeks and
chin are white, flecked with dark brown; chest and flanks ash brown;
rest of under parts white. The young resemble their parents. Length
10·75 in.; bill 2·5 in.; wing 5 in.

There is a dark variety of this bird, known as Sabine’s Snipe, which is
occasionally met with, especially in Ireland. It has the whole of the
under parts ash brown, barred with black, and the light stripes on the
back are absent. Intermediates between the normal and the true Sabines
are not uncommon.



                             THE JACK SNIPE
                      Gallinago gallinula, Linnæus


Breeding in the north-western corner of Europe, as far east as
Archangel, the Jack Snipe is only a winter visitor to this country,
arriving towards the end of October and often not leaving our shores
till well on in summer, but there is no authenticated case of its ever
having bred with us. In habits it closely resembles the Common Snipe,
but lies much closer when being “walked up,” and then rising at one’s
feet goes off at a great pace. It is a more solitary bird than the
Common Snipe, and a single individual may often be found for a whole
winter in the same spot.

During the breeding season it “drums” in the same manner as the Common
Snipe, the noise having been compared to the cantering of a horse on a
hard road. The eggs are similar in colour and only very slightly smaller
than those of the Common Snipe.

It may be recognised by its short bill and smaller size, and from its
having only twelve instead of fourteen tail feathers. Length 7·5 in.;
bill 1·5 in.; wing 4·25 in.



                       THE BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER
                    Limicola platyrhyncha (Temminck)


This species, although it may sometimes have been overlooked, is a very
scarce wanderer to our shores. Nesting on the tundras of North Europe,
it migrates eastward in winter to the shores of the Levant.

Its general appearance in winter is much like the Dunlin, but its
somewhat flattened bill and the small amount of white on the secondaries
and upper tail coverts form distinctive characteristics. Length 6·5 in.;
bill 1·2 in.; wing 4·25 in.



                    THE AMERICAN PECTORAL SANDPIPER
                       Tringa maculata, Vieillot


The American Pectoral Sandpiper has occurred more frequently in Great
Britain than any other of the American Sandpipers, some thirty or forty
examples having been shot, and with two exceptions they have all
occurred during the winter months.

Its breeding range is in Arctic America, whence it migrates to the
tropics of America for the winter, and presumably those examples that
visit us have come _via_ Greenland, Iceland, and the Faroes.

The upper parts are brown, with lighter margins to the feathers; chin
and throat whitish; breast buff, streaked with brown. Length 8 in.; bill
1·1 in.; wing 5·3 in.



                    THE SIBERIAN PECTORAL SANDPIPER
                      Tringa acuminata (Horsfield)


The Siberian Pectoral Sandpiper is very closely allied to the above. It
breeds in Eastern Siberia and is found in winter down the Asiatic coast.
Two examples have occurred in England.

It differs from the American form in its smaller size and more rufous
coloration, while the markings on the breast are arrow-shaped. Length
7·4 in.; wing 5·25 in.



                         BONAPARTE’S SANDPIPER
                      Tringa fuscicollis, Vieillot


This is an American species, breeding in Arctic regions and migrating in
winter along the whole of the Atlantic sea-board of America. About a
dozen examples have been procured in England and one in Ireland.

In appearance it is like a small Dunlin, but may be recognised by its
smaller size, shorter bill, and white upper tail coverts. Length 7·25
in.; bill 0·9 in.; wing 4·75 in.



                               THE DUNLIN
                         Tringa alpina, Linnæus


Of all our shore-birds the Dunlin, or, as it is sometimes called, the
Ox-bird, is the most numerous. At all times of the year and round all
our coasts it may be seen running about and feeding on the animal life
to be found among the rocks or in the soft muddy ooze recently left by
the ebbing tide. It is almost always found in flocks, which are often
made up of thousands of individuals, and when disturbed from one place
they may be seen twisting and turning on the wing in graceful flight,
preparatory to settling again on some rich feeding-ground. At times it
is most absurdly tame, so that it is possible to walk right among a
flock, which will continue feeding or resting as though unaware of the
presence of a stranger. Suddenly an individual will sound the little
alarm-note, and the whole flock will rise as though governed by one
mind, even those who were asleep flying off in full possession of their
faculties as though they had been on the alert all the time. In summer
many leave us to nest in Northern Europe, while others betake themselves
to inland moors or salt marshes round the coast on which to breed. It
cannot be called a common nesting species with us, but it has been found
in suitable places throughout the United Kingdom, becoming more numerous
in the north.

The nest is a shallow “scrape” among heather, rough grass, or some other
cover, and during the nesting season the male has a pretty little trill,
which is generally uttered on the wing as he flies over the nest.

                [Illustration: DUNLIN
                _Tringa alpina_
                Winter (above). Summer (below)]

The eggs are greenish white, spotted and blotched with reddish brown.
The young when first hatched are covered with reddish down, mottled with
black and white.

In its winter dress the adult Dunlin is grey above and white below with
a whitish bar across the extended wing. In spring the crown of the head
is rufous, streaked with black. Mantle black, with broad rufous margins;
the neck and throat white, streaked with black, breast black; belly
white. The sexes are alike, the female being usually slightly the
larger. Length about 7·5 in; bill 1·7 in.; wing 4·5 in. This species,
however, varies greatly in size.

The young in autumn have the back nearly black, the feathers having
narrow buff and rufous margins; the under parts are white, buff across
the breast, and thickly spotted, especially on the lower breast, with
black. The amount of spotting, however, as well as the colour of the
breast, varies greatly in individuals.



                       THE SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER
                        Tringa pusilla, Linnæus


A single example, the first to be recorded in Europe, of this American
species, was shot in Kent on the 17th September 1907. In general
appearance it resembles a Little Stint, but is rather paler and more
sandy in colour, and may easily be recognised by its longer bill and
partially webbed toes. Length 5·6 in.; bill 0·85 in.; wing 3·7 in.



                           BAIRD’S SANDPIPER
                          Tringa bardi (Coues)


This is an American species, and has recently been twice obtained in
England.

In winter it closely resembles a Dunlin in general appearance, but is
slightly streaked on the back. Its summer plumage is quite distinct.
Length about 8 in.; wing 4·7 in.



                            THE LITTLE STINT
                         Tringa minuta, Leisler


This, the smallest of our shore-birds, is not a very common species. It
occurs yearly on the autumn migration, along our eastern and southern
coasts, but on the west it is very irregular in its appearance and
decidedly rare. Its breeding-grounds are the tundras of Northern Europe,
though it is decidedly scarce as a breeding species in the north-west;
it winters in the tropical regions of the Old World.

In its habits and food it closely resembles the Dunlin, but its much
smaller size enables it to be easily recognised.

In plumage it is practically a miniature Dunlin, but it lacks the black
on the breast, which in the breeding plumage has a reddish tinge. Length
6 in.; bill 0·7 in.; wing 3·55 in.



                           THE AMERICAN STINT
                       Tringa minutilla, Vieillot


This species has occurred in this country on two or three occasions. It
is practically the counterpart of our species and can only be
distinguished by its rather smaller size and darker colour. Length 5·25
in.; wing 3·5 in.



                            TEMMINCK’S STINT
                       Tringa temmincki, Leisler


Although nesting much nearer to our shores than the Little Stint, this
species is a very rare and irregular visitor to this country. It breeds
commonly in Norway as far south as Trondhjem and eastwards across Russia
beyond the limit of tree growth. In winter it migrates eastwards as far
as India.

In appearance it is not unlike a very small Common Sandpiper, whereas
the Little Stint resembles a small Dunlin. It may, however, be further
recognised by the shaft of the outer primary being nearly white, and the
two outer tail feathers being quite white. Length 5·75 in.; bill 0·6
in.; wing 3·8 in.



                          THE CURLEW SANDPIPER
                    Tringa subarquata (Güldenstädt)


This bird arrives on our shores from the middle of August onwards,
leaving us again in October, and a few are met with on the return
journey in May. Although by no means as numerous as many other
shore-frequenting migrants, it is not uncommon on certain parts of the
coast, especially on the east and south, but is much rarer in the west.
It may be recognised by its white rump and by the partially decurved
bill, to which it owes its trivial name.

There is nothing to specially distinguish it in habits from the other
species of Waders, and it will generally be found associating with
Dunlins.

The breeding-grounds are in Arctic Siberia east of the Yenesei, and it
winters in the tropical regions of the Old World.

In autumn the adult is brownish grey on the upper parts, white on the
rump and under parts. The young birds may be recognised by the light
margins to the feathers of the back and a buffish tint on the chest. In
the spring plumage the upper parts are chestnut, streaked with black and
grey. The under parts are chestnut, sometimes barred or spotted with
brown, the feathers having white margins. Length 8 in.; bill 1·4 in.;
wing 5·1 in.



                          THE PURPLE SANDPIPER
                        Tringa striata, Linnæus


The Purple Sandpiper is a winter resident on our rocky shores, and if
somewhat local is nevertheless well distributed wherever suitable
localities are found.

It has not yet been known to breed within the British area, but it is
not unlikely that further investigation may prove that it does so on the
Shetlands. Its nearest authenticated breeding-ground is on the Faroes;
it breeds also in the north of Norway, Iceland, Greenland, and other
circumpolar islands westward to Arctic America, but there is no evidence
of its nesting in Siberia. The nest is placed on the sea-shore or on
rocky fells near the margin of a lake, and the eggs are usually pale
greenish buff, with reddish-brown markings. Both sexes incubate, and the
male takes chief care of the brood; if disturbed after the young are
hatched, the parent runs about in evident distress, and looks in the low
scrub more like a rat than a bird. Their diet consists of insects,
crustacea, and other living food, which may be found among the sea-weed
growing on rocks; and the most exposed situations are visited as soon as
the tide has uncovered the weed.

In summer the adult has the upper parts dark brownish grey, the feathers
being spotted with rufous and tipped with whitish. The under parts from
the chin to the breast dark grey, with brownish streaks; belly and
flanks white, the latter spotted with brown. Three inner secondaries
white, showing up conspicuously in flight. In winter the upper parts
have a purplish gloss, and the breast is brown, with indistinct
mottlings. The young have light margins to the feathers. Length 8·57
in.; bill 1·1 in.; wing 5 in.

The short legs give this bird a “squat” appearance and generally afford
a clue to its identity.



                                  KNOT
                        Tringa canutus, Linnæus


In autumn numbers of this species visit our shores, where for a few
weeks it is one of the commonest birds, being found on all our coasts
except in the west of Scotland. Large numbers leave us again after a few
weeks’ sojourn, but a fair number remain with us in wide estuaries or
sheltered bays throughout the winter. A return migration takes place in
spring, the birds being then in the full red plumage of the breeding
season; but these soon pass on and only a few weakly and non-breeding
birds are left with us during the summer.

For a long time the breeding home of this bird was unknown, and even
though it was discovered breeding over thirty years ago, it is only
within the last four or five years that authentic eggs have been
obtained and brought home from East Siberia. Its chief breeding-grounds
are the Arctic regions of North America and the north of Greenland, and
in winter it is found down both sides of the Atlantic.

In its food and habits it does not differ from its congeners, with whom
it may often be found associating.

In winter the adult is grey on the upper parts and white below, with a
few greyish flecks or bars on the upper breast. The young bird is
browner, with light margins to the feathers of the back, the breast pale
buff pink, with a few grey flecks. In nuptial plumage the head and neck
are reddish brown, streaked with black; upper parts black, the feathers
having marginal spots of chestnut and white tips; under parts chestnut,
spotted with black; vent and flanks whitish, mottled with black. Length
10 in.; bill 1·5 in.; wing 6·5 in.



                             THE SANDERLING
                      Calidris arenaria (Linnæus)


From its habit of frequenting sandy stretches along our shores, and less
frequently near inland lakes, this species has gained its trivial name.
To this country it is only a migrant, young birds arriving from their
northerly breeding-grounds as early as the middle of August; the old
birds follow a week or so later, many of them still retaining traces of
the nuptial plumage. They stay with us only a short time, and early in
October the majority have left us to winter on the shores of the
Mediterranean, very few remaining behind. In May the return migration
commences, but they only stay for a very short time to rest and then
continue their journey to the Far North.

Their food consists entirely of marine insects, sand-hoppers, and other
crustacea, but at their summer-quarters large quantities of the northern
saxifrage are consumed. It is very tame, allowing a close approach as it
runs about on the sand, and appears conspicuously white among the
Dunlins and other shore-birds with which it consorts. The note is a
sharp “wick.”

Its breeding range is entirely circumpolar, and the eggs are greenish,
spotted with brown, not unlike miniature Curlew’s.

In its winter plumage, in which it is most commonly met with in this
country, the upper parts are pale grey and the under parts white. In its
spring plumage the feathers of the back are black, with rufous margins;
the chin, throat, and breast chestnut, with a few dark brown spots; vent
white. In autumn the rufous edgings on the back of the old birds have
almost entirely worn away. Length 8 in.; bill 0·9 in.; wing 4·7 in.

This species may always be distinguished by the absence of the hind toe.

In autumn the young have the back black, spotted with white; the under
parts white, with traces of buff on the sides of the breast.



                                THE RUFF
                       Machetes pugnax (Linnæus)


Formerly this species used to be a regular summer migrant to our shores,
breeding in the fen countries and other suitable places, but now,
although a few birds visit this country in spring, and possibly a few
may still breed, it is only as an autumn visitor that it will be
generally found. Even on passage it can hardly be called common, but on
our east and south coasts a good many pass through, halting merely for a
few days. On the west and in Ireland it is decidedly rare and irregular
in its appearances.

This species differs in its nesting habits from all other Waders. The
males, who don a special showy ruff in spring, meet at their
breeding-quarters on some raised mound and display their finery to the
hens. Apparently they are very pugnacious, as they will often jump up
and peck at another male, using their feet also after the manner of a
gallinaceous bird, but on close observation it will be seen to be all
“show,” and we have never seen a proper fight between two males. On the
arrival of a female the males spread out their ruff and remain
motionless in front of her, and as she moves away they will jump up, and
quivering with suppressed excitement again display their charms, to
which she is apparently quite indifferent. Although said to be
polygamous, the question is still open to doubt; from among her many
admirers the female chooses one, and observations, so far as they go,
seem to show that she only pairs with one male. A male, unless chosen,
never pursues the female or interferes with her in any way, but trusts
merely in his external beauty to attract her attention.

The nest is placed among rough herbage in a fairly damp place. It is a
deep cup, well lined with grass and bents. The eggs, usually four but
often three in number, are greyish green, blotched and spotted with
various shades of brown. Except during the actual pairing the male takes
no part in the housekeeping, and when the females are sitting the males
may be seen together in flocks. In food and other habits this species
resembles the majority of Waders.

In winter the sexes are alike, except that the male is very much larger
than the female. The upper parts are of a uniform brownish, and the
under parts brownish grey, with white margins to the feathers; belly
white. The young resemble the adults but are darker on the back, the
feathers of which have rufous or buff margins. The neck and breast are
of a pale pinkish buff.

In spring, the male grows a long ruff on the neck and upper breast as
well as a backwardly directed ear tuft on each side of the head. This
ruff can be raised or depressed at will, and is of a variety of colours,
hardly any two being exactly alike. The face also becomes covered with a
mass of warty carbuncles. The feathers of the back and flanks are black,
mottled, spotted, or barred with chestnut. The female has no ruff, but
becomes darker on the back and breast. Length of male 12·5 in.; bill 1·5
in.; wing 7·25 in.: of female 10 in.; wing 6 in.



                      THE BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER
                     Tringites rufescens (Vieillot)


Several examples of this American species have been obtained on our
shores. This bird is somewhat like the preceding species although much
smaller, but it may always be recognised by the black markings on both
sides of the inner webs of the primaries and secondaries. Length 8 in.;
bill 0·9 in.; wing 5·25 in.



                          BARTRAM’S SANDPIPER
                    Bartramia longicauda (Bechstein)


This is another North American species, of which some eight or ten
examples have been procured in this country.

Its general colour is pale tawny buff, barred and mottled with blackish.
For a Sandpiper its tail is distinctly long and barred. Length 11·5 in.;
bill 1·2 in.; wing 6·6 in.


[We may note here that the Sandpipers we have hitherto been dealing with
have had the tail plain, whereas in the remaining ones, which belong to
the genus _Totanus_, the tail is barred.]



                          THE COMMON SANDPIPER
                      Totanus hypoleucus (Linnæus)


This inland species, which is a summer migrant to our islands, is common
and well distributed along the margins of lakes and on the gravel shores
of streams and rivers. In the south and east, where suitable localities
are scarce, it only occurs on migration, but elsewhere it breeds
regularly.

The note is a plaintive “wheet, wheet, wheet,” generally uttered on the
wing. It is a very pleasing bird in its actions, running along the
margin of the water and moving its body with a peculiar and delicate
see-saw motion. When flying it remains fairly low down and follows the
course of the stream, generally keeping over the water. Its food
consists of worms, flies, and insects. The nest is placed on the ground,
usually near the margin of some water, or on a rocky or gravel islet.
The spot chosen is sometimes quite bare, or at other times thickly
overgrown with brambles and rough vegetation. For a wading-bird it
constructs a fairly substantial nest of grass and leaves, etc., and the
eggs are of a pale clay buff, spotted with brown. The young when first
hatched are greyish green with longitudinal dark stripes.

In August or early in September they begin to leave their
summer-quarters and may then often be found in the salt marshes and on
tidal ditches near the shore, but they do not remain there long, and by
October they have all left, with the possible exception of a few
stragglers that spend the winter in some of the south-western counties.

In summer the upper parts are bronzy brown, irregularly barred and
flecked with blackish; sides of the neck and breast grey, with dusky
streaks; rest of under parts white. In autumn the upper parts are
uniformly brown, or nearly so, and the under parts lighter and with
fewer streaks. The young have buff margins to the feathers of the back
and lack the dark streaks on the throat. Length 8 in.; bill 1 in.; wing
4·25 in.



                         THE SPOTTED SANDPIPER
                      Totanus macularius (Linnæus)


This American species has been recorded on several occasions in these
islands. It is closely allied to the Common Sandpiper and resembles it
in plumage, but in the spring dress it is more spotted on the under
parts, and in autumn it is greyer above, and lacks the bronzy tint of
our native bird. All the secondaries are barred with ash brown, whereas
in the Common Sandpipers the eighth and ninth are nearly white. Length 7
in.; wing 4·2 in.



                           THE WOOD SANDPIPER
                    Totanus glareola (J. F. Gmelin)


This species is a regular but somewhat scarce visitor to our shores on
migration. In Ireland and the west it is extremely rare, but in the
south-east corner of England it occurs in small numbers yearly,
especially in autumn. Formerly a few pairs used to nest in one or two
suitable localities, but they have long ceased to do so. In the west of
Europe it does not breed south of the Baltic, but in the east it breeds
in the valley of the Danube and also possibly in Northern Italy.

The nest is placed on the ground in a marshy spot, and when they have
eggs or young the birds are extremely noisy if their haunts are invaded.
In this country it is generally found on salt marshes near the sea and
very rarely inland.

The sexes are alike: the back brown, spotted with white; upper tail
coverts white; shafts of the quills dusky, except that of the _outermost
one_, which is _white_. Under parts white, streaked with brown on the
throat and breast, the flanks being barred with the same colour.
Axillaries white. The young bird is similar, but the white spots are
larger and more elongated, and the outer tail feathers are barred on
both webs instead of on the outer one only. Length 8·5 in.; bill 1·1
in.; wing 5 in.



                            GREEN SANDPIPER
                       Totanus ochropus (Linnæus)


This is a much commoner species than the last, and haunts inland
streams, especially in the neighbourhood of trees and woods. It is most
numerous during the autumn migration, but many pass the winter with us,
and it has been suspected of breeding on more than one occasion, but
positive proof of this has not been forthcoming.

In the north and west of Scotland it is scarce, but otherwise it is
widely distributed throughout the country. On the Continent it nests in
marshy woods from the Arctic Circle southwards to Central Russia,
Poland, and East Germany, its migrations extending to Africa in the
winter.

In its nesting habits it differs from all others Sandpipers, for it lays
its eggs in the deserted nest of some other bird, generally that of a
Thrush, Blackbird, or Jay. The eggs are greenish grey, with small
brownish spots. Its food consists of worms and insects.

In plumage it very closely resembles the preceding species, but the back
is darker and the spots much more minute. It may, however, always be
distinguished by the _dusky_ shaft of the _outermost_ primary and the
brownish black axillaries. In young birds the spots on the back are less
plentiful and of a more buffish tint. Length 9·5 in.; wing 5·5 in.



                         THE SOLITARY SANDPIPER
                      Totanus solitarius (Wilson)


This is an American species, which, like so many of its New World
congeners, has occasionally and at long intervals straggled to these
islands.

Its nearest ally is the preceding species, from which it may be
recognised by having _all_ the tail feathers, except the central pair,
boldly barred with black. Length 8·25 in.; wing 5·2 in.



                            THE YELLOWSHANK
                    Totanus flavipes (J. F. Gmelin)


Two examples of this American species have been obtained, the first near
Nottingham and the second at Marazion in Cornwall.

In general appearance it is not unlike a young Redshank, but the legs
are longer and more slender, and the axillaries are _barred_ and not
white. Length 10·75 in.; wing 6 in.



                        THE GREATER YELLOWSHANK
                     Totanus melanoleucus (Gmelin)


A solitary example of this species was shot on the 16th September 1906
at Tresco in the Scilly Islands. It is an American species and is not
unlike a very large Redshank, but the legs are longer in proportion and
yellow in colour. Length 12·15 in.; bill 2 in.; wing 8 in.



                          THE COMMON REDSHANK
                       Totanus calidris (Linnæus)


The Redshank is a common breeding species in suitable localities
throughout our islands.

In winter it occurs abundantly round all our coasts and causes much
annoyance to shooters from its habit of flying up on the least alarm and
warning all the other less wary fowl, with its shrill “tui too too.”

The nest is usually situated on some inland marsh or low-lying grass
field intersected with ditches. It is a very slight structure of grass
and bents well concealed in a tussock of grass or tuft of rushes. The
four eggs are of a pale stone colour, mottled and blotched with rich
reddish brown. During the nesting season this bird becomes very noisy,
and if the nesting site be approached, especially after the young are
hatched, they fly round the intruder or sit on some bank, calling out
vigorously all the time. It is a most interesting sight to take a
sporting dog to where they have young and watch the way in which time
after time these birds will decoy the dog away by fluttering under his
very nose until they have led him to what they consider a safe distance,
when they will spring in the air and with a cheery note return to their
brood. This habit is common to many species and orders of ground-nesting
birds, but unless we take a keen hunting dog with us we shall fail to
realise what an excellent device it is for safeguarding the young from
mammalian vermin. The food and habits of this species call for no
special comment, as it does not greatly differ from its congeners.

In winter the adult is greyish brown on the back; secondaries nearly
white; rump and under parts white, with a few dark streaks on the neck
and breast. Bill black with a red tip; legs red.

In summer the upper parts are yellowish brown barred and spotted with
blackish, the under parts white, profusely streaked on the neck and
sides of the breast with ash brown, the flanks being barred with the
same colour. Length 11 in.; bill 1·8; wing 6·25 in.

The female resembles the male, and the young may be recognised by the
feathers of the mantle having buff spots and the legs being yellow.

The white secondaries are very conspicuous in flight.



                          THE SPOTTED REDSHANK
                        Totanus fuscus (Linnæus)


The Spotted Redshank is a rare migrant on both the spring and autumn
migrations. In Scotland, Ireland, and the west of England it is almost
unknown, but in the eastern counties a few probably occur every year on
passage, but their stay is of such short duration that they are often
unnoticed.

It breeds in the north of Scandinavia and Russia, laying its eggs in
very dry situations at a considerable distance from its marshy
feeding-ground. The young are, however, taken to the marsh as soon as
they are hatched.

In summer the male has the upper parts black mottled with white, except
the rump, and upper tail coverts, which are white, barred with black.
Under parts black. Bill black, red at base of lower mandible; legs and
feet deep red. The female at this season often has a white chin. In
autumn the upper parts and neck are ashy brown mottled with white; under
parts white. The young differ from the autumn plumage of the adults in
having the chin white and the rest of the under parts thickly barred
with ash brown. Length 13 in.; wing 6·6 in. This species lacks the white
wing bar.

                [Illustration: REDSHANK
                _Totanus calidris_
                Adult, summer (right)
                SPOTTED REDSHANK
                _Totanus fuscus_ (Linnæus)
                Young in autumn (left)]



                               GREENSHANK
                    Totanus canescens (J. F. Gmelin)


In a few places in Scotland where large tracts of pine forest exist some
small boggy swamps varying in size from two or three acres to perhaps
half an acre, may be found situated in the midst of the woods. These
swamps form the summer home of the few Greenshanks that nest with us.
The eggs are placed on a tussock in the centre of one of these bogs, so
that to reach them is by no means an easy matter, and so cunning are
these birds that they are seldom seen feeding on the swamp where they
nest, but prefer to dine elsewhere. The eggs are generally of a light
stone colour, boldly blotched and marked with darker brown. As soon as
the young are hatched the parents remain in constant attendance, and
should any one disturb the peace of their solitude, fly round, calling
out incessantly. Amid such surroundings, therefore, be it in Scotland,
Sweden, Finland, or elsewhere, the Greenshank is born, but as soon as he
is able to fly at about five weeks old he departs with his parents for
the nearest sea-shore where the mud-flats exposed at each tide afford
him abundant nourishment. He is a wild and restless bird, and
continually utters his clear “tui-tui” when on the wing. As a rule he is
more partial to ditches filled and emptied at every tide than a broad
flat expanse of mud, and by walking quickly along a ditch he may often
be closely approached and watched as he probes the soft ooze for worms,
shrimps, sand-hoppers, or anything that may come handy. At the least
sign of danger, however, he is off, calling out as he rises and
displaying a very conspicuous white rump. Although liking to associate
with others of his kind, his wild flight soon breaks up the family
party, so that by the time he reaches our shores in August and September
it is generally in twos and threes. The abundance of food on the shore
has not been without its effect, and he is at this time of year
exceedingly fat, doubtless a wise provision, as both old and young are
moulting and migrating, which must be a serious tax on their system.
They stay but a short time with us, and by the beginning of October the
last of them has gone and their ringing “tui-tui” no longer enlivens the
shore. In April they will return, but they are then anxious to reach
their summer home, and brief as is their passage in autumn it is still
shorter in spring, and if we wish to see them then it must be at their
home in Scotland or farther north.

In summer the back is nearly black, each feather being margined with
white; rump white; head white streaked with dark brown. Under parts
white with a few blackish streaks on the throat and upper breast. In
winter the back is greyer and the under parts are pure white. The sexes
are alike. The young are browner on the back, and have buffish margins
to the feathers. Length 14 in.; wing 7·25 in.



                         THE RED-BREASTED SNIPE
                  Macrorhamphus griseus (J. F. Gmelin)


Some half-dozen examples of this American species have been met with in
England, all of them during the autumn months.

At this time of year, except in size, it resembles a Dunlin; but in
spring the under parts are chestnut, spotted on the breast, and barred
on the flanks with dark brown. The feathers of the back are black, edged
and barred with rufous. Rump and upper tail coverts white barred with
black. The shaft of the outermost primary is pure white. Length 10 in.;
wing 5·5 in.



                         THE BAR-TAILED GODWIT
                       Limosa lapponica (Linnæus)


On migration this species visits us in fair numbers, being found on low
sandy shores and sheltered estuaries. A few remain throughout the
winter, but by far the larger number pass on to Africa after a short
sojourn. In May there is a return migration, especially along the east
coast, the birds being then in full nuptial plumage.

It breeds in the northern portions of Europe, and in winter it is found
throughout Southern Europe as well as in Africa. The note is a loud
“louey, louey.”

In autumn the sexes are alike, and the general colour is brownish grey
above and white below. The tail feathers are brown with no bars, but the
tail coverts are barred at all seasons.

The young have a shorter beak than the adults, and are brown chequered
with buffish above and dull buff below. The tail feathers are broadly
barred.

In spring the male has the back blackish with tawny markings, the head
and neck chestnut with dark streaks. Whole of the under parts deep
chestnut, the sides of the breast spotted with brownish black. Rump
white. Tail whitish with brown bars. Length 15·5 in.; bill 2·25 in.;
wing 8 in. The female is much larger and has very little of the ruddy
tint.



                        THE BLACK-TAILED GODWIT
                     Limosa belgica (J. F. Gmelin)


During the first half of last century this species used to nest in small
but diminishing numbers in the fens and marshes of Lincolnshire and East
Anglia. It is now only met with on passage, and even at such times it is
by no means common, and in Scotland and Ireland it is scarce and its
visits very irregular. On the Continent it breeds in South Scandinavia,
Central Russia, Poland, North Germany, Denmark, and Holland, migrating
during August to the Mediterranean basin.

Their food consists of insects and worms, which in this country are
chiefly sought for in marshes near the shore. In the autumn plumage the
general colour is ash brown above and greyish below. There is a
conspicuous white wing bar, and the tail feathers are mostly black with
white bases. In spring they have the mantle brown, mottled with black;
head, neck and breast pale chestnut, the latter being barred with black.
The female is considerably larger and rather duller than the male. The
young in their first autumn resemble their parents, but have the neck
and upper breast tinged with buff. Length 16 in.; wing 9 in.



                               THE CURLEW
                       Numenius arquata (Linnæus)


The Curlew is an abundant resident throughout the United Kingdom. In the
winter it is essentially a shore-bird, moving about in large flocks,
which may be found in the meadows and pasture-lands near the coast;
these flocks journey to the shore twice daily to feed on the mud or
rocks left bare by the ebbing tide. In April it leaves the coast to nest
on the heath-covered moors, and though it breeds in larger numbers in
Scotland it is well distributed in the north and west of England and
Ireland.

The nest is a shallow “scrape” with hardly any lining, and is placed
among the heather or in a grass field. The four eggs are very pyriform
in shape and are olive green in colour blotched with brown; the duties
of incubation are undertaken by both sexes. It is extremely wary, rising
on wing at the least alarm and calling out its loud “cour lie,” which
may be heard a considerable way off. Its food consists of worms, slugs,
snails, and other insects, and when on the shore, small fish and
crustacea are added to the bill of fare.

The general colour is a pale brown, with dark streaks; rump, vent, and
upper tail coverts white. In winter the under parts are very pale in
colour, almost white. The female is larger and the young in their first
plumage are spotted rather than streaked on the back. Length 21-26 in.;
bill 4·7-6 in.; wing 11·5-12·25 in.



                              THE WHIMBREL
                       Numenius pheopus (Linnæus)


The Whimbrel only passes through these islands on migration, though a
few pairs breed on the Orkneys and Shetlands. The spring passage
generally takes place in May, from which it is known in some countries
as the May-bird. In habits and food it closely resembles the Curlew, but
its note is very different, being a rather melodious rippling whistle,
which may be syllabled as “telly, telly, telly, tet.” The fells of
Arctic Europe form its chief nesting-grounds, whence it migrates in
winter to the shores of the Mediterranean.

In plumage it is very similar to the Curlew, but may always be
distinguished by having the crown of a uniform dark brown with a pale
stripe down the centre. It is also a much smaller species. Length 17·5
in.; bill 3·4 in.; wing 10 in.

                [Illustration: CURLEW
                _Numenius arquata_]



                           THE ESKIMO CURLEW
                   Numenius borealis (J. F. Forster)


The home of this bird is in Arctic America, and some eight or nine
examples have been procured in this country.

In appearance it is rather like a small Whimbrel, but it may be
recognised by the absence of barring on the primaries, no white on the
rump, transverse arrow-head markings on the under parts, and the
axillaries being chestnut barred with brown. Length 14 in.; wing 8·25
in.



                             THE BLACK TERN
                     Hydrochelidon nigra (Linnæus)


Up till the middle of last century the Black Tern was a regular summer
visitor to our shores, remaining to breed in the fens and marshes of
England. For the last forty years, however, it has only occurred on
passage, the adult birds passing through in April and May, and flocks in
immature plumage being found along the east coast in the autumn. To the
west of England and Scotland it is a very irregular visitor, and the
same may be said of Ireland.

It nests in colonies on inland marshes, the nest being an accumulation
of decaying vegetation floating on the surface of the water. The eggs,
three in number, are olive green blotched with dark brown. Its food
consists largely of aquatic insects and their larvæ, dragon-flies and
such like, but it also feeds readily on small fish.

South of the Baltic it breeds in suitable localities throughout Europe,
migrating from its more northerly summer quarters to Africa.

The adult in summer has the head, neck, and under parts dark greyish
black, the rest of the plumage slate grey, except the vent and under
tail coverts, which are white. Bill black. In winter the forehead, nape,
chin, throat, and under parts are white. The young resemble the adults
in winter, but the upper tail coverts are lighter and the back and wing
coverts are greyish mottled with brown. Length 10 in.; wing 8·5 in.



                      THE WHITE-WINGED BLACK TERN
                   Hydrochelidon leucoptera (Schinz)


This species, which is nearly allied to the preceding, breeds in the
marshes of Central and South-eastern Europe. It is a very scarce and
irregular visitor to our eastern and south-eastern shores, especially in
spring.

In habits it resembles the Black Tern, from which it may be
distinguished in summer by its red bill, white tail and tail coverts,
and whitish wing coverts. The young may be distinguished from those of
_H. nigra_ by their longer toes and much paler rump and tail. Length 9·5
in.; wing 8·25 in.



                           THE WHISKERED TERN
                     Hydrochelidon hybrida (Pallas)


This is a more southern species than its congeners, breeding in Spain,
on the delta of the Rhone, and eastwards in Turkey, Greece, and South
Russia. To our shores it is a very rare visitor, some half-a-dozen
specimens only having been obtained.

In summer it is not unlike the Black Tern, but it may be recognised by
the bill, which is stouter and red; the black of the head and nape is
sharply contrasted with the grey of the back. A broad white stripe runs
backwards from the base of the bill. Chin and throat grey, shading to
black on the belly. In winter the forehead and under parts are white.
Length 11·5 in.; wing 9·25 in.



                          THE GULL-BILLED TERN
                        Sterna anglica, Montagu


With this species we come to the true Terns or Sea-Swallows, the
preceding species being known as Marsh Terns. The Gull-billed Tern is
only a very scarce straggler to our shores, being a southern European
species though occurring yearly as far north as Denmark.

In habits there is nothing to distinguish it from our commoner species.

In summer the adult has the whole of the upper parts, including the
tail, pearl grey; head and nape dense velvety black; primaries blackish.
Under parts pure white; bill and legs black. In winter the head is white
streaked with black. Length 15·5 in.; wing 13 in.



                            THE CASPIAN TERN
                         Sterna caspia, Pallas


This large Tern is, like the preceding, only a rare straggler to our
shores. It nests in Denmark and various islands on the Baltic, as well
as in the Mediterranean basin eastwards to the Aralo-Caspian area.

Plumage much as in preceding species, but the tail nearly white. Bill
vermilion red; legs black. Length 20 in.; wing 16 in.



                           THE SANDWICH TERN
                     Sterna cantiaca, J. F. Gmelin


This species arrives on our coasts about the middle of April and at once
repairs to its breeding-stations. In England these are very few in
number and mostly in the north, but occurring equally on the east and
west coasts. In Scotland the colonies are rather more numerous, while
Ireland can only boast of one in the north.

It nests on the bare shingle, the nests being usually placed quite close
to each other. Two or three eggs of a pale stone colour, spotted and
blotched with reddish brown and black, form the clutch.

Like all Terns, this bird is a powerful flier, and seizes the fish on
which it feeds by plunging into the water with considerable force. Its
note is a loud and harsh “kirhitt,” which may be heard some way off and
often enables this species to be detected when among other Terns. It
leaves our shores as soon as the young are well on the wing, and though
a few stragglers may occur on the coast during the autumn it is by no
means a common species, and needs all the protection it can get, if it
is to remain an annual summer visitor to our shores.

The adult male in summer has the crown of the head black; the rest of
the upper parts pearl grey; rump, tail, and under parts white, the
breast being suffused with a delicate rose tint which soon fades after
death. Bill black with a yellow tip. Legs black. The female is similar
but slightly smaller. In autumn the back of the head and nape are white,
the latter being lightly mottled. In the young the head is white mottled
with black. The feathers of the back and wing coverts have black and
brownish crescentic markings and white tips. The tail is also marked
with angular lines of black, the outer feather being almost entirely
greyish. Length 16 in.; bill 2·5 in.; wing 12 in.



                            THE ROSEATE TERN
                        Sterna dougalli, Montagu


This Tern still nests in small numbers round our shores, but it is
extremely scarce and somewhat erratic in its choice of
breeding-quarters, which often vary from year to year. It arrives very
late in May, and leaves our shores as soon as the young can fly, so that
it is not often met with on migration. It breeds sparingly on the coast
of France, but its chief breeding-quarters are along the Atlantic coast
of the United States.

In general habits it resembles its congeners, but it is an exclusively
sea Tern, obtaining most of its food some distance out at sea.

In plumage it is almost indistinguishable from the two following
species, but it may be recognised at all ages by the white inner margins
to the primaries reaching the tip and even some little way up the outer
web. The bill in the breeding season is black; legs and feet red. Length
15·5 in.; wing 9 in.



                            THE COMMON TERN
                      Sterna fluviatilis, Naumann


This species arrives in May and nests in colonies round the whole of the
coast as well as on some inland waters. In England it is the commonest
Tern, but in Scotland and Ireland the Arctic Tern is almost if not quite
as numerous, and both species may often be found nesting on the same
island or beach.

Its food consists of small fish and crustacea, which it catches after
the manner of all Terns by dropping down on them with closed wings from
a moderate height.

                [Illustration: COMMON TERN
                _Sterna fluviatilis_
                Summer. Young flying]

They nest in colonies on rocks, shingle beaches, or near the margins of
large inland waters, and very little attempt at a nest is made, though
this species almost invariably gathers a few bents together. The eggs
are usually three in number, often only two, and are very variable in
colour, being as a rule greenish or stone buff, with brown and grey
spots and markings.

The note is a sharp “kik-kik,” but during the nesting season they utter
a loud “ee-arre,” which is rather characteristic of this species.

The young are covered with pale brown down mottled with black, and leave
the nest as soon as they are hatched, but they remain near the spot
until they are fully fledged and well able to fly, as they are during
that period entirely dependent on their parents for food.

Soon after the young can fly, old and young gradually disperse along the
coast, slowly working southwards till by the beginning of October the
last straggler has left for its winter quarters in Africa.

In summer the adult has the crown of the head and nape black, the rest
of the back pearl-grey; rump white; tail feathers white with greyish
outer webs. Under parts white tinged with grey. Bill orange red with
_horn-coloured tip_; legs coral red. The sexes are alike. In winter the
forehead is sprinkled with white and the under parts nearly pure white.
The young in its first plumage has the head white; spotted with blackish
brown, the feathers of the back pale pearl-grey barred with buff or
brown and tipped with white; by late autumn, however, the back is pure
grey with the exception of a dark band along the carpal joint. Bill and
legs yellowish. Length 14·25 in.; bill 1·7 in.; tail 6·5 in.; wing 10·5
in.



                            THE ARCTIC TERN
                        Sterna macrura, Naumann


Except in a few minor points of plumage and in its distribution this
species is the counterpart of the preceding one. In England it is only
met with on migration, though a few pairs may nest in the north, but in
Scotland it is the commonest Tern, breeding in increasing numbers
northwards. In Ireland it breeds commonly, especially on the wind-swept
islets of the north and west. Elsewhere it breeds in circumpolar
regions, and has been met with in winter in Antarctic seas, so that it
has a latitudinal range of from 82° N. to 74° S., probably the largest
range recorded for any one species.

Its nesting habits are similar to those of the Common Tern, and as a
rule it collects absolutely no materials for a lining, but lays its eggs
in a shallow “scrape” or even on the bare rock. The eggs are
indistinguishable in colour from those of the Common Tern, but are on
the average slightly smaller. To the experienced ear the note is also
rather different, but that difference is too slight to be expressed on
paper.

This species may be distinguished from the preceding species by its
blood-red bill, which is _not_ darker at the tip, and the shorter tarsi.
The under parts, especially in summer, are much darker, and the stripe
on the inner web of the flight feathers is narrower and darker than in
_S. fluviatilis_. In other respects these species are almost
indistinguishable. Length 14·5 in.; bill 1·6 in.; tail 7·5 in.; wing 10
in.



                            THE LITTLE TERN
                         Sterna minuta, Linnæus


This is the smallest of our Terns and is a summer visitor, breeding in
fair numbers on shingle beaches round the coast but becoming scarcer in
the north.

It may often be seen fishing in small parties at the tidal mouth of some
small stream, especially when the tide is flowing. At such times it
flies slowly towards the sea till it sees a fish, when it stops, hovers
for a moment, and then drops on its prey, rising immediately from the
water to resume its search; after progressing a short distance it will
wheel back and return to its starting-point.

The eggs are laid on the bare sand or shingle without any attempt at a
nest; they are usually three in number and of a pale stone colour
spotted with grey and brown. The note is a sharp “kik.”

In summer the head and nape are black, except for the forehead, which is
white. Upper parts grey, tail and under parts white. Bill yellow with a
black tip. Legs orange.

The young have the head white, streaked with blackish brown, mantle grey
with buffish tips, under parts white. In their first autumn plumage they
are very similar to the young of the Sandwich Tern, the feathers of the
back being marked with black, brown, and white. Length 9 in.; wing 6·75
in.



                             THE SOOTY TERN
                    Sterna fuliginosa, J. F. Gmelin


Stragglers of this tropical species have on two or three occasions been
met with on our coasts.

There is a white band across the forehead, which extends backwards over
the eye on each side; rest of the upper parts deep sooty black; under
parts white; outer web of outer tail feathers white. Bill and legs
black. Length 17 in.; bill 2·1 in.; tail 7·5 in.; wing 11·75 in.



                               THE NODDY
                        Anous stolidus (Linnæus)


Like the former, this is a tropical species, which has on two occasions
wandered to our shores.

The general colour is a dark chocolate brown all over except for the
head, forehead, and crown, which are lavender grey. Length 16 in.; wing
10·5 in.



                             SABINE’S GULL
                      Xema sabinii (Joseph Sabine)


This circumpolar species is a very rare autumnal visitor to our shores.
Its chief breeding-grounds are the Arctic regions of North America,
whence it migrates southwards, in winter.

The adult has a slate grey back; the head and neck are very dark grey,
tail and under parts white. In winter the forehead and crown are white.
In their first autumn the young are ash grey on the occiput, nape, and
back. The tail feathers have broad black tips. Length 13 in.; wing 10·75
in.

This species may always be recognised by the forked tail.



                         THE WEDGE-TAILED GULL
                    Rhodostethia rosea, Macgillivray


This extremely scarce Arctic Gull is said to have been obtained in
Yorkshire on one occasion. It may be recognised by the wedge-shaped
tail.

The adult is grey on the mantle; the rest of the plumage, except for a
narrow black ring round the neck, is pure white. Length 13·5 in.; wing
10·25 in.



                            BONAPARTE’S GULL
                      Larus philadelphia (Ordigny)


This is a common North American species, of which some three examples
have been taken in the United Kingdom.

In summer the adult has the head and neck black; mantle grey; tail and
under parts white. The black on the head is lost in winter. Length 14
in.; wing 10·25 in.

This species may always be recognised by the white margins to the inner
webs of the two outer primaries.



                            THE LITTLE GULL
                         Larus minutus, Pallas


This species, which is the smallest of our Gulls, is an irregular autumn
visitor to our shores. It breeds in Northern Russia and possibly on some
of the islands of the Baltic, migrating in winter to the Black Sea and
Mediterranean.

In summer the head and neck are black; mantle grey, primaries grey edged
with white, rest of plumage white except the underside of the wing,
which is black and forms a distinctive characteristic in the adult.
Length 11 in.; wing 8·75 in.



                         THE BLACK-HEADED GULL
                       Larus ridibundus, Linnæus


The Black-headed Gull is an extremely abundant species throughout the
United Kingdom at all times of the year. In summer it resorts to various
inland marshes and bogs, where it nests in immense colonies, some of
which have been in use for centuries. In autumn and winter it is found
all along the coast and up tidal rivers, a great many coming to London,
where they are extremely tame and show great agility in catching bread
and other morsels of food thrown to them by pedestrians. The bird is
practically omnivorous. When inland it follows the plough and feeds
largely on worms and beetle grubs which are thus laid bare; but on the
sea-shore, fish, crustacea, marine insects, and garbage are greedily
devoured.

                [Illustration: BLACK-HEADED GULL
                _Larus ridibundus_
                Summer]

The nests are placed in a very wet and boggy place, surrounded, if
possible, by water, but small ponds or tarns in marshy land are chosen
in preference to large sheets of water. The nest is a large untidy heap
of weeds and sticks. Four eggs, which are greenish, spotted and blotched
with various shades of brown, form the usual clutch. The young hatch
after about three weeks’ incubation, and are covered with pale brown
down mottled with black. They leave the nest when two or three days old,
but for a week or ten days at least are entirely dependent on their
parents for food; after that, however, though still fed by their
parents, they pick up a good deal for themselves. They fly when about
six weeks old. This gull is extremely noisy at all times, but when the
nesting-ground is approached the babel of harsh screams is deafening.
Although usually settling on the ground, this bird can perch with ease,
and does so not infrequently when at its breeding haunts.

The sexes are alike, and in winter have the back pearl grey, wing
feathers white with dark margins to the inner webs, head white with two
indistinct dark crescents connecting the eyes and ears respectively,
rest of the plumage white. Bill and legs white. In summer the head, with
the exception of a narrow white circle over the eye, is dark brown. Bill
and legs much darker than in summer. The young in their first plumage
are mottled with pale brown, but soon become like the adult except for a
black bar on the tail and pale brown wing coverts. The brown head is
often only partially assumed in their first summer. Length 16 in.; wing
12 in.



                  THE MEDITERRANEAN BLACK-HEADED GULL
                     Larus melanocephalus, Natterer


This southern species has only once been taken on our shores, though, as
it visits the west of France not uncommonly, there is no great
improbability in its occurrence here. Its true habitat is the
Mediterranean basin.

It is slightly smaller than the preceding species, and the head is jet
black, _not_ brown. The beak is also stouter. In young birds the first
five primaries are chiefly dark brown, whereas in our species the shafts
and contiguous portion of the inner webs are white. Length 15·5 in.;
wing 11·75 in.



                      THE GREAT BLACK-HEADED GULL
                       Larus ichthyaëtus, Pallas


This species is found in Egypt, the Levant, the Red Sea, and Persian
Gulf, and only one example is known to have occurred on our shores.

The large size and black head are sufficient to distinguish this species
when adult; young birds may be recognised by the clear-cut dark band
across the tail and by the white margins to the outer webs of the
secondaries. Length of male 26 in.; wing 19 in. The female is much
smaller.



                              COMMON GULL
                          Larus canus, Linnæus


This bird is by no means the commonest of our Gulls, but may
nevertheless be found in fair numbers along all our coasts in winter.

It does not breed in England, and in Ireland there are comparatively few
colonies; but in Scotland, on the low islets round the coast as well as
on the lochs and tarns inland, it is abundant in summer as well as in
winter.

It usually nests in small colonies of six or eight pairs on some
low-lying islet near the coast or on a lake, but it avoids during the
breeding season precipitous coasts and exposed situations. The nest is
placed on the ground and composed of a few bits of grass, seaweed, and
heather without any attempt at concealment. The eggs, usually three in
number, are olive brown streaked and spotted with blackish; like most
Gull’s eggs, however, they vary considerably in colour. In food and
habits it closely resembles the Black-headed Gull. Its ordinary note is
a harsh cry, but during the nesting season it tries, somewhat feebly, to
imitate the well-known call of the larger Gulls.

In summer the plumage, with the exception of the wings and mantle, is
pure white. The mantle and most of the wing feathers are delicate bluish
grey, but the three outer pairs of flight feathers are black with a
white mirror towards the tip. Bill greenish with yellowish tip, legs
greenish yellow. The sexes are alike, and in winter the head is flecked
with brown. The young in autumn may be distinguished by the black bar on
the tail and brownish wing coverts. Length about 17 in.; wing about 15
in.



                            THE HERRING GULL
                     Larus argentatus, J. F. Gmelin


This is the commonest of all our Gulls, and may be found abundantly
throughout the year, round all our coasts. It nests in colonies, usually
on the ledges of precipitous cliffs, although small low islets are
occasionally resorted to. The nest is composed of grass, seaweed, and
other vegetable débris, and the eggs, three in number, are greenish
brown with brown and grey markings, but they are not infrequently of a
uniform pale blue. Incubation is undertaken by both sexes. The young as
a rule remain in or near the nest till fully fledged, but when the nest
is low down near the shore they leave it much sooner. The Herring Gull
is practically omnivorous; fish, rats, crustacea, and garbage thrown up
by the tide are all equally appreciated, and when nesting near colonies
of Guillemots and Cormorants it systematically hunts the ledges and
devours any uncovered eggs it can find. During the nesting season it is
very noisy and utters a variety of cries; at times the head is bent
right down and suddenly thrown up in the air with a loud “ollick,
ollick,” which cry is taken and repeated all over the colony. Young
Gulls first commence to utter this note, which is not peculiar to the
nesting season or to this species, at about three months old. If the
colony be approached the birds utter a short “ow-ow”; the pairing note
is a deep “mau,” not unlike a cat’s “miau,” and a soft purring “ououou,”
the latter note being uttered while the bird sits down and toys with
grass or other material at hand.

                [Illustration: HERRING GULL
                _Larus argentatus_
                Summer]

The adult in summer has the mantle French grey, secondaries grey tipped
with white, outer primaries black with white tips and large subapical
“mirrors.” The rest of the plumage is white. Bill yellow with a red
patch at the basal angle. Legs flesh-coloured. The female is said to be
smaller than the male, but the difference is not always very apparent.
In winter the head and neck are streaked with brownish.

The young in the first autumn are mottled all over with pale brown. They
do not become fully adult until their fourth year, though they may
sometimes breed in their third year. The adult plumage is assumed
gradually, and there is much individual variation both as regards the
time and method in which it is assumed. As a rule, however, some grey
feathers appear on the back during the first summer; after the second
autumn moult the under parts are chiefly white flecked with brown, but
the back is chiefly brown. In their second summer much of the brown on
the head and under parts is lost, the mantle becomes very grey, and the
bill begins to show signs of yellow. The wing coverts and tail are,
however, still very mottled.

After the third autumn moult the under parts, head, and neck are much as
in the adult birds but more thickly mottled, the back chiefly grey, but
the wing coverts, wings, and tail are still very brownish. In their
third summer they are practically in adult plumage except for the wings
and tail and a remnant of black on the bill. After the fourth autumn
moult they are in full adult plumage except that the bill may still show
some traces of black and occasionally the tail has some brown flecks,
but by the time their fourth summer comes round they are in full adult
plumage and breed.

Immature birds are seldom seen among colonies of adults during the
summer, and it is still somewhat doubtful where they spend the summer;
possibly round some islets out at sea where food is plentiful. Length 24
in.; wing 17 in.



                      THE LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL
                         Larus fuscus, Linnæus


Very closely allied to the Herring Gull, this species is tolerably
common everywhere, but is rather more local in the breeding season. In
England it nests but sparingly and only in the west, but in Scotland it
becomes much more abundant, and in some districts commits considerable
havoc among the game-birds on the moors.

It chooses for its breeding-quarters some grassy slope on the top of the
cliffs or on an islet in one of the numerous firths in the west of
Scotland. In Ireland it is generally distributed and nests sparingly
round the coast. In all its habits this species so closely resembles the
Herring Gull that further description is unnecessary.

The adult only differs from the preceding species in being black on the
mantle and wing coverts, and in the colour of the legs, which are
yellow. Length 22 in.; wing 16 in.

It is almost impossible to distinguish the young of this species in
their first autumn.



                     THE GREATER BLACK-BACKED GULL
                         Larus marinus, Linnæus


This species may be found during the winter on almost any part of our
shores, but it is by no means so abundant as the Herring Gull.

As a breeding species in England it is rather scarce, chiefly owing to
lack of suitable places, but in Scotland it is abundant. It is a bold
and majestic species, with a fine soaring flight, but we must
acknowledge that it is terribly destructive to weakly lambs and young
water-fowl. Practically omnivorous, nothing comes amiss to this
rapacious bird, and its food consists largely of carrion and other
refuse of the shore. Although it has often been denied, this and other
species of Gulls can completely immerse themselves and pick up food from
the bottom in at least three feet of water, and we have repeatedly
observed them do so in captivity. Having marked some food at the bottom
of the water, they rise to a height of about four feet and forcibly
precipitate themselves into the water with half-open wings; they are
nevertheless extremely buoyant, and occasionally bob up on to the
surface again before they have attained their object.

An isolated “stack” or islet in a loch is commandeered by a pair of
these birds for their summer home. The nest, composed of grass and
rubbish, is usually placed on the highest point. They lay two or three
eggs, which are stone buff in colour, blotched and spotted with light
brown and grey.

The most usual note is a deep “ow, ow, ow.” In plumage the adult is
almost the counterpart of the preceding, but the legs are
flesh-coloured. Length 23 in.; wing 19 in.

The young are mottled and barred with various shades of brown and buff,
but are rather lighter in colour than those of the Herring Gull. The
adult plumage is assumed by precisely the same stages as in the other
species, and they may occasionally become fully adult in their third
summer.



                           THE GLAUCOUS GULL
                      Larus glaucus, O. Fabricius


This large white-winged Gull is an annual visitor to the north of
Scotland, but southwards it becomes scarcer, and it is only in very
severe weather that it visits the south of England. Its breeding range
is circumpolar, its nearest breeding-place to our shores being in
Iceland.

                [Illustration: GREATER BLACK-BACKED GULL
                _Larus marinus_
                Summer (right). Young, first autumn (left)]

The mantle and wings are pearl-grey, with white tips to the secondaries
and outermost webs of the quills. Orbital ring vermilion. Legs pink.
Immature birds are whitish uniformly and thickly mottled with ash grey.
Length 29 in.; wing 18 in.



                            THE ICELAND GULL
                        Larus leucopterus, Faber


This species is very closely allied in plumage and habits to the
preceding. It is a winter visitor to the shores of Scotland, only coming
south in severe weather. It breeds on Jan Mayen Islands and Greenland,
and is only a winter visitor to the island whose name it bears.

Except in size it is almost a counterpart of the Glaucous Gull, but the
orbital ring is flesh-coloured, and the legs yellowish. Length 22 in.;
wing 16 in.



                           THE KITTIWAKE GULL
                       Rissa tridactyla (Linnæus)


With the Kittiwake we come to a species of Gull which differs in its
general build from those we have hitherto dealt with. It is rather
shorter in the leg, which gives it a somewhat “squat” appearance, and it
does not run about on land with the same facility. In correlation with
this we find it to be a much more pelagic species, and though found
commonly round our shores, it gets most of its food on the water and is
rarely to be found among the large flocks of other Gulls that spend much
of their time on the shore itself. Its food consists almost entirely of
fish, in pursuit of which it dives and swims under water with ease.

It nests on the ledges of precipitous cliffs in immense colonies, and in
some cases the population of these colonies must amount to very many
thousands. The nest is built of seaweed and other flotsam, and is often
larger than the narrow ledge on which it is placed. The eggs, two or
three in number, are usually pale greyish white, blotched and zoned with
ash grey and brown; the shell is rougher in texture than in the other
species. They are laid very late in the season, so that it is generally
July before the young are hatched. Both sexes take part in the
incubation, and the young are entirely nidicolous, not leaving the nest
till they are well able to fly.

In summer the adults very closely resemble the common Gull, but it is a
smaller bird, and the black legs, on which the hind toe is absent, form
an unfailing characteristic. In winter the nape and hind neck are grey
like the mantle. Length 15·5 in.; wing 12 in.

The young bird in its first autumn has the nape greyish but darker than
in the adult, and the wing coverts and inner secondaries are thickly
spotted with brownish black.

                [Illustration: KITTIWAKE
                _Rissa tridactyla_
                Summer (below). Winter (above)]



                             THE IVORY GULL
                       Pagophila eburnea (Phipps)


Some thirty or forty examples of this Arctic Gull have been taken in
these islands; it is entirely circumpolar in distribution and breeds on
Spitzbergen, Franz Josef Land, Novaya Zemlya, and other Arctic regions.

The adult is entirely white; bill greenish grey with a red tip; legs
black, the hind toe being well developed. The young bird is mostly
white, but spotted on the back, wings, and tail with brownish black.
Length 18 in.; wing 13 in.



                             THE GREAT SKUA
                   Megalestris catarrhactes (Linnæus)


The Skuas are a group of birds closely allied to the Gulls, being very
similar in general build, but both the claws and beaks are sharper and
more hooked.

As a rule they chase Gulls and Terns, compelling them by so doing to
disgorge their last meal; this the Skua then devours, leaving the Gull
in peace to hunt for more. They are not, however, always content with
this second-hand dinner, but sometimes kill and eat the Gulls
themselves; they also devour offal and carrion.

The Great Skua is a scarce species, and is but seldom seen round our
shores. The only breeding-stations within the United Kingdom are on two
islands of the Shetlands, where it is strictly protected. During the
winter, unless driven inshore by stress of weather, it keeps out at sea,
remaining near the Gulls on the fishing-grounds.

The nest is a “scrape” among the heather on the highest part of some
island, and the eggs, two in number, are olive brown with darker
markings. In defence of their home this species is very bold, sweeping
down continually at an intruder and even striking at him with their
wings.

The sexes are alike, and are dark brown above with chestnut and whitish
mottlings; below they are of a uniform rufous brown. The claws are
hooked and sharp. Length 21 in.; wing 16 in.

The young resemble their parents.



                          THE POMATORHINE SKUA
                  Stercorarius pomatorhinus (Temminck)


This bird, especially when immature, is not very rare on our eastern
shores during the autumn migration in September and October, a few even
wintering off our south coast. On the return migration in spring it is
very rarely seen.

It breeds in Eastern Siberia and thence eastward across Arctic America
to Greenland.

The adult has the head sooty black. The hind neck whitish with straw
yellow acuminate feathers. Upper parts brown, two central tail feathers
longer than the rest and twisted vertically. Under parts whitish, except
the flanks and abdomen, which are brown. Length 21 in.; wing 14·25 in.

The young bird in its first autumn is brown mottled and barred with dull
rufous. It takes more than a year to assume the full adult plumage.



                    THE ARCTIC OR RICHARDSON’S SKUA
                 Stercorarius crepidatus (J. F. Gmelin)


This is the commonest of the Skuas, occurring on all the Scottish coasts
and being fairly common in the east of England every autumn. In Ireland
and the west of England it is only an irregular straggler.

It breeds in the Shetlands, Orkneys, and the north of Scotland, some
moor at no great distance from the sea being chosen as a summer home. No
nest is made, but a depression is formed in the moss or grass on which
the two brownish green eggs, blotched with darker brown, are laid. The
young when first hatched are covered with dark brown down.

In its habits and food it does not differ from the other Skuas.

This species is dimorphic, one form having light under parts, and the
other being of a uniform sooty brown all over. The light-coloured birds
predominate in the north of their breeding area and the dark ones in the
south, but when they meet they breed indiscriminately, and intermediates
of all shades are found. The central tail feathers are longer than the
rest. Length 20 in.; wing 13 in.

The young vary considerably, but are usually brown, mottled and spotted
with chestnut, while in some the chestnut colour is almost entirely
wanting.



                    THE LONG-TAILED OR BUFFOUS SKUA
                   Stercorarius parasiticus (Linnæus)


This is a rare species to all our shores, but a few, chiefly immature
birds, visit the east coast yearly, and in some seasons become quite
common. It is a circumpolar species, breeding on the tundras throughout
Europe, Asia, and America, and migrating in winter as far south as the
basin of the Mediterranean.

In its habits it resembles other Skuas, but in addition to robbing
Gulls, it feeds largely on beetles and worms, and the young eat a large
quantity of crowberries when in their summer-quarters.

The adult has the top of the head black, cheeks and hind neck buffish
yellow, mantle and tail, the two central feathers of which are much
elongated, grey brown, wings darker. Under parts chiefly white, brownish
on the flanks and belly. Length 23 in.; tail 8·5 in.; wing 11·9 in.

Immature birds are barred above and below with brown and yellowish
white. It is sometimes rather difficult to distinguish between the young
of this and the preceding species; the present species is, however,
always much greyer and less rufous, and has the shafts of the _two
outer_ primaries _white_, the rest being _dusky_, whereas in the Arctic
Skua the shafts of all the primaries are _white_.

                [Illustration: RICHARDSON’S SKUA
                _Stercorarius crepidatus_
                Adult (above). Young (below)]



                             THE RAZORBILL
                          Alca torda, Linnæus


The Alcidæ are pre-eminently pelagic birds that spend their whole life
out on the ocean except for a few short weeks every year, when they
assemble in thousands on precipitous cliffs to breed.

During most of the year the Razorbill lives far out at sea in the
Atlantic, never coming within sight of land unless driven inshore by
some winters gale.

It is an expert swimmer and diver, and though it flies well and swiftly
with rapid beats of its small wings, it rarely avails itself of that
means of progression. It feeds entirely on small fish. Early in April it
repairs to the cliff where it is to breed, but it is not until May that
the large single egg is deposited in some nook or recess of the cliff
often quite hidden from view. If, however, suitable recesses are not
handy, it will content itself with an open ledge. The egg is white or
buffish in ground colour, boldly marked with chocolate brown and black.
Incubation, which is carried on by both sexes, lasts about five weeks.
The young bird when first hatched is covered with short down and is
blackish on the back, white beneath, and yellowish on the head. It
remains in the nest for about three weeks, by which time it is covered
on the back and breast with downy feathers and has tiny wing feathers
caused, as in the case of the game birds, by the rapid growth of the
primary wing coverts.

At this age the young may be found in the sea, having presumably been
carried down by their parents; they can swim readily, but it is said
that unless forcibly made to dive by their parents they remain on the
surface. In captivity, however, they dive without hesitation on the
least sign of alarm, using both wings and feet, and progress with
considerable rapidity under water.

At the age of about two months the flight feathers proper begin to grow,
and then the autumnal moult takes place.

In summer the adult has the head, neck, chin, throat, and back deep
blackish brown, a narrow line from the eye to the culmen white, and the
rest of the under parts white. The bill is black and vertically
flattened; it has two or more grooves near the tip that are whitish. It
varies greatly in size, and is much larger in some individuals than in
others, this difference being probably due to age. The sexes are alike,
and in winter the chin and throat are white. Except in the size of the
bill, the young bird resembles the adult after the first moult. Length
17 in.; wing 7·3 in.

                [Illustration: RAZORBILL
                _Alca torda_
                Adult (left). Young (right)]



                             THE GREAT AUK
                         Alca impennis, Linnæus


So much has been written on this now extinct species that it need hardly
be mentioned here.

The last living example was killed off Iceland in 1844, and the last
British example was captured in 1834 in Waterford Harbour.

In former times it was abundant round Newfoundland, and especially on
Funk Island, where the fishermen used to salt it down for food, and soon
extirpated it.

In appearance it was like a large Razorbill, but it had very small wings
and was quite incapable of flight. The lores and under parts were white,
upper parts black. Length 32 in.; wing 4·25 in.



                          THE COMMON GUILLEMOT
                         Uria troile (Linnæus)


In its habits, food, and actions this species closely resembles the
Razorbill, and they are usually found breeding on the same cliffs. The
numbers at a colony can only be reckoned in countless thousands, the
birds sitting crowded together as close as possible.

This species lays its egg on the bare open ledges and never seeks the
nooks and recesses made use of by the Razorbill. The eggs are very
pear-shaped, a wise provision which prevents their rolling off the
narrow ledges on which they are laid. In colour they are most variable;
the commonest variety is greenish in ground colour with brown or black
streaks and markings; cream varieties somewhat resembling those of the
Razorbill are not uncommon, but they may always be distinguished by the
_yellowish white_ lining membrane, whereas in the Razorbill the membrane
is _greenish_.

The young bird when first hatched is covered with iron-grey down on
those parts of the body which are brown in the summer dress of the
adult. The under parts are white and there are a few bits of white down
on the head.

In its habits and moults it resembles the young Razorbill.

In summer the adult has the upper parts, chin, and throat dark brown,
and the rest of the body white. The black bill is long, pointed, and
sharp, and not flattened as in the Razorbill. At the autumnal moult the
brown on the chin, throat, and back of the head is replaced by white,
and in this and the other allied species all the flight feathers are
moulted at the same time. Length 18 in.; wing 7·5 in.

There is a curious variety of this bird known as the Ringed or Bridled
Guillemot, which may be distinguished in summer by having a narrow white
ring round the eye which stretches backwards for a short distance along
the feather crease behind it.

                [Illustration: COMMON GUILLEMOT
                _Uria Troile_
                Adult, summer (left). Young (right)]



                          BRÜNNICH’S GUILLEMOT
                       Uria bruennichi, E. Sabine


This species breeds in the north of Iceland, Greenland, Spitzbergen, and
on suitable cliffs throughout the Far North. Some three or four examples
only have been taken off our shores.

In habits and appearance it very closely resembles the preceding
species, but it may be recognised by the general colour being much
darker and lacking the brownish tint of the common species. The bill is
stouter and black with a whitish line along the upper mandible from the
nostrils to the gape. Length 18 in.; wing 8·25 in.



                          THE BLACK GUILLEMOT
                         Uria grylle (Linnæus)


In England this species is rare even in winter, but in Scotland and
Ireland it is fairly common, and breeds in suitable spots round all the
coasts.

The Black Guillemot differs in many respects from the other Auks and it
is never found in vast colonies, though several pairs will often breed
in close proximity. Some hole or recess in a cliff or among broken rocks
on a steep slope is chosen and two eggs are deposited, which are whitish
spotted with grey and brown and elliptical in shape. Both sexes take
part in the incubation, and the young are said not to leave the nest
until they are fully fledged. Their food consists of fish and
crustaceans, which they obtain by diving.

The sexes are alike in plumage, and in summer are of a uniform sooty
brown all over, with the exception of a patch on the wing, which is
white. Bill black. Legs vermilion red.

In winter the crown is black marked with white, the back barred with
black and white, and the rest of the plumage white. The young resemble
the adults in winter but are rather whiter. Length 14 in.; wing 6·5 in.



                             THE LITTLE AUK
                        Mergulus alle (Linnæus)


This species is an inhabitant of Arctic seas, breeding in Greenland,
Spitzbergen, and Franz Josef Land, but it does not occur in Arctic
America nor to the east of the Kara Sea. In winter it migrates
southwards and a few are found round our northern shores every year, but
in severe winters it often occurs in considerable numbers, and many
storm-driven birds are found in a dying condition far inland.

There is a small white spot over the eye, but otherwise the plumage is
sooty black on the upper parts. The under parts are white, but in summer
the chin and throat are black. Length 8·5 in.; wing 4·65 in.

                [Illustration: BLACK GUILLEMOT
                _Uria grylle_
                Summer (below). Winter (above)]



                                 PUFFIN
                      Fratercula arctica (Linnæus)


One of the most fascinating points in connection with this quaint bird
is that for at least six months in every year we know nothing, or
comparatively nothing, of its habits or whereabouts.

Towards the middle of April it suddenly appears at certain well-known
haunts and proceeds forthwith to set up housekeeping.

A hole or cranny in a rock or, where possible, a rabbit-burrow is fixed
upon as its home, and the same entrance is often shared by several pairs
as well as the rabbit.

A weird little creature is our friend as he sits bolt upright on his
doorstep, turning round every now and again to bill and coo with his
mate, their large orange-red beaks and feet showing up brightly against
their black-and-white plumage. The wings are so short that this bird
finds some difficulty in rising from a flat surface, and when on the
wing will often fly round in spiral curves in order to reach the summit
of the cliff. In flight the legs are held spread out behind on either
side of the very short tail and help to act as rudders.

The large single white egg being laid, both birds take their turn at
incubation, and invariably sit with their head facing the entrance, and
woe betide any one who by mistake enters the wrong hole, for their beaks
are exceeding sharp and powerful, and they cling on with all the
tenacity of a bull-dog.

They feed chiefly by night and spend the day resting on the water or at
the mouth of their burrows. The food consists of small fry, and when
feeding their young as many as three or four fish are caught and carried
up in their bill at the same time. If approached by boat, they remain
till one is just on them, and then suddenly dive. Under the water their
progress is extremely rapid, and both wings and feet are brought into
play, but especially the former.

The young are clad in very thick long down of a dark smoke-grey colour.
As they grow they will often move about the passage, running to the
entrance and meeting their parents, but never venturing outside, while
if they meet another young one bound on a similar errand a stern fight
ensues.

Not, however, till they are fully fledged do they leave the burrow and
then immediately take to the water, on which they are quite at home,
swimming and diving with ease from the very first.

The parents, whose plumage has lately been showing signs of wear, now
commence to moult, and shed at the same time the ornate sheath at the
base of the bill and over the eye, while the beak itself becomes dark
and the rosette at the corners of the mouth shrinks. A few more days and
by the end of August they have gone—where? They are never seen, and the
only evidence of their existence is the occasional occurrence of a dead
or starving individual washed ashore or blown inland by a winter’s gale.

The head, nape, and the whole of the upper parts and a broad collar
round the throat are black. Scales of the head and under parts white.
Legs deep orange. Bill chiefly red and orange. The young resemble the
parents, except that the beak is much smaller and the legs are pale
flesh-coloured. The mode of growth of their wings is quite distinct from
that of the Guillemot, the primaries being grown simultaneously with the
rest of the plumage. Length 13 in.; wing 6 in.



                        THE GREAT NORTHERN DIVER
                      Colymbus glacialis, Linnæus


During autumn and winter this species is by no means rare along our
coasts. It does not remain to breed on any part of Great Britain, but
breeds to the north-west in Iceland, Greenland, and North America.

It feeds entirely on fish, and the adults generally keep well out at
sea, unless the weather be stormy, so that the individuals that frequent
our shores are mostly immature.

In autumn the young bird has the feathers of the back greyish brown with
paler margins; under parts whitish. Bill brownish horn colour.

The adult in its breeding dress has the back black, each feather having
two square white spots; the head and neck are black with a purplish
gloss, except for two crescentic bands on the fore neck, which are
longitudinally striped with white and black. After the autumn moult the
whole of the upper parts are pale slaty blue, the head and nape dusky
grey, chin and throat white. This plumage is, however, worn for an
exceedingly short time and is rarely complete, signs of the new breeding
dress appearing before all old feathers have been cast.

The winter feathers of the head and neck are downy. Length 30·32 in.;
wing 13·14 in.



                    THE WHITE-BILLED NORTHERN DIVER
                      Colymbus adamsi, G. R. Grey


This species breeds in the Far North, wandering south in winter; two or
three examples have been taken on our shores, and it is probable that
owing to its resemblance to the preceding species it has been often
overlooked.

The chief characteristic is the bill, which is yellowish white at all
seasons, and the lower mandible is also markedly upturned. The white
streaks on the transverse throat bands are much fewer in number than in
the preceding species. Length about 33 in.; wing 15·1 in.



                        THE BLACK-THROATED DIVER
                       Colymbus arcticus, Linnæus


The Black-throated Diver is very rare in England, and the few examples
that are obtained are usually immature. In Ireland it has only been
taken at long intervals, but in Scotland it breeds locally throughout
the north and west.

The site chosen for the nest is usually an islet in some large loch, and
the eggs, two in number, are olive brown, sparsely spotted with black
and brown. The young when first hatched are of a uniform smoky
grey-brown.

In its habits it closely resembles the next species. In summer the back
is black, spotted with white, but the spots are not so uniformly
distributed as in the former species. Crown and hind neck ash grey, chin
and throat black, margined with short black and white stripes and a
small band of similar stripes towards the upper end of the patch. Under
parts white. The sexes are alike, but the females are slightly smaller.
After the autumn moult the chin and throat are white and the upper parts
ash brown.

The young bird resembles the young of the Great Northern Diver, but is
much smaller and the neck is greyer. Length 27 in.; wing 11·75 in.



                         THE RED-THROATED DIVER
                   Colymbus septentrionalis, Linnæus


This species is the commonest of the Divers and may be found along all
our coasts during the winter months. In the breeding season, except for
a few pairs that may still be found on some of the Irish loughs, it is
restricted to Scotland so far as our islands are concerned.

The eggs are laid close to the margin of some small tarn or on an islet
in a large loch, but the former situation is the one preferred; they are
elongate and olive brown, spotted with umber. The young leave the nest
as soon as they are hatched, but they are not very strong divers at
first and receive all their food from their parents; in fact this
species often nests on ponds destitute of fish, and journeys several
miles to the sea or large loch daily for its food. If the nest be
approached the sitting bird glides off and dives without a ripple,
reappearing again some way off. The note is a loud and mournful “kark,
kark, kakera.”

In winter the adult is brown on the back, spotted with small white
spots. The under parts are pure white, and head and neck, on which the
feathers are very downy, are greyish brown on the crown and nape and
white on the chin and throat. In summer the white spots on the back
disappear; the crown and nape are slate grey streaked with black; the
sides of the head and neck are pale grey and there is a longitudinal
patch of chestnut down the fore-neck. The sexes are alike in plumage.
The young bird in winter may be distinguished by the spots on the back
being longer and tending to form arrow-shaped markings, and the feathers
of the vent have narrow brown margins. Length 24 in.; wing 11·2 in.

                [Illustration: RED-THROATED DIVER
                _Colymbus septentrionalis_
                Adult in summer (right). Young (left)]



                        THE GREAT CRESTED GREBE
                     Podicipes cristatus (Linnæus)


In the course of these pages we have often had to lament the
extermination or decrease of many species, so that it is a real pleasure
to have to record that a fine species like the present has increased
abundantly of late years.

This has been largely brought about by very strict protection, and
although still local, there are many places where it is now common, and
in Scotland it breeds on several lochs as far north as Aberdeenshire. In
Ireland also it nests in several localities. It is practically a
resident and may be found with us at all times of the year, but after
the breeding season the majority leave their summer haunts and may be
found in the estuaries and bays along the coast. The nest is a large
floating mass of decaying vegetation generally well hidden among thick
reeds, though occasionally it is placed in the open. The eggs, usually
four in number, are yellowish white when first laid, but soon become
stained to a dirty brown from contact with the decaying vegetable matter
with which they are always covered when the sitting bird leaves the
nest. The young when first hatched are dark brown, longitudinally
striped with white; they are carefully tended by both their parents, who
often carry them on their backs. The food consists of fish, crustaceans,
and any other living food which may be found.

This bird may usually be seen swimming about in the centre of the open
water, its long neck and low flat back enabling it to be easily
recognised.

It flies well and strongly, appearing when on the wing rather like a
Duck.

In winter it is dark brown above and white below, but in spring it
assumes a chestnut tippet which surrounds the face; the crown of the
head is dark brown, the cheeks and a stripe over the eye white.

The female is rather duller but otherwise resembles the male. The young
in their first plumage are much like the adults in winter. Length 21
in.; wing 7·5 in.



                          THE RED-NECKED GREBE
                    Podicipes griseigena (Boddaert)


On the east coast of England this species is not uncommon during the
winter months, and in some seasons becomes quite abundant. Elsewhere in
our area it is decidedly rare, and not more than five or six examples
are recorded from Ireland. It is plentiful in the south of Scandinavia,
the Baltic, and North Russia, whence it migrates southwards throughout
Europe in the winter. In habits and food it does not appreciably differ
from the preceding species.

The crown and nape are blackish, upper parts dark brown with a white
patch on the secondaries.

Cheeks, chin, and throat grey; neck rich chestnut red; rest of under
parts white. Length 18 in.; wing 7 in.

                [Illustration: GREAT CRESTED GREBE
                _Podicipes cristatus_
                Adult, summer (right). Young (left)]



                     THE SLAVONIAN OR HORNED GREBE
                      Podicipes auritus (Linnæus)


This is a northern species, breeding in Iceland, Scandinavia, and
Russia, which visits our shores, especially in the east, annually, and
in the north of Scotland it is quite common. Ireland is also regularly
visited on migration every year.

In summer the upper parts are dark brown; the crown, forehead, chin, and
tippet black, and a tuft of elongated feathers on each side of the head
chestnut. Secondaries white, _except the three outer ones, which are
dusky like the primaries_; neck, breast, and flanks warm chestnut; belly
white. In winter the crest is absent; the under parts are white. The
young resemble their parents in winter dress. Length 13·5 in.; wing 5·5
in.



                    THE BLACK-NECKED OR EARED GREBE
                   Podicipes nigricollis, C. L. Brehm


Unlike the preceding species, this is a southern Grebe, stragglers of
which are occasionally met with most frequently in spring, and there is
evidence that it may have nested with us on more than one occasion. To
Scotland and Ireland it is a very rare wanderer.

The adult in spring has the head and neck black with a triangular patch
of yellowish chestnut feathers on the ear coverts; upper parts dark
brown; under parts white; flanks chestnut. All the secondaries _white_,
and _a good deal of white on the four innermost primaries_. Bill black,
_up-curved in front of the angle_. In winter the ear tufts and black on
the throat are lost, and at this season it closely resembles the
preceding species, but the _white_ on the primaries will always serve to
distinguish it. Length 12 in.; wing 5 in.



                      THE LITTLE GREBE OR DABCHICK
                    Podicipes fluviatilis (Tunstall)


The Little Grebe is abundant on rivers, streams, and ponds throughout
the country, but becomes scarcer in the north of Scotland. It must be
tolerably familiar to every one as a short squat little bird that dives
at the smallest alarm, only coming to the surface again some distance
away, most often among the reeds and aquatic vegetation near which this
bird is always found. The nest is a fair-sized mass of dead weeds
floating on the surface of the water and generally moored to some reed
stems.

The eggs, usually five in number, are of a uniform yellowish white, but
soon become discoloured by the weeds with which they are always covered
when the bird is not sitting. The nestling is striped, and fed by its
parents on insects and small fish. These birds are seldom seen on the
wing and hardly ever on land, but nevertheless they are well able to
stand up and even walk when on shore.

In summer the plumage, except for the cheeks, throat, and sides of the
neck, which are chestnut, is dark brown all over, rather lighter on the
under parts.

In winter the chin, neck, and under parts are nearly white. The plumage
of the young resembles the winter dress of their parents but is a little
duller, and there is more white about the cheeks. Length 9·5 in.; wing 4
in.



                            THE STORM PETREL
                     Procellaria pelagica, Linnæus


This is the commonest of the Petrels which come to our shores to breed,
for as a rule these birds live far out at sea and only visit the shore
to breed or when driven inland by stress of weather or on migration.
About their migrations little or nothing is known, but in October and
November this species regularly strikes many of our lighthouses and
lightships, being attracted by the light. It is found along the whole of
the countries fringing the Atlantic, and nests from the Faroes
southwards, and also along the shores of the western end of the
Mediterranean.

The single white egg is deposited during the latter half of June down
holes in heaps of stones, in rabbit-burrows, or in any other spot
affording suitable concealment. Incubation, which is probably undertaken
by both sexes, lasts about thirty-five days, the nestling when hatched
being covered with long black down. Their food consists of crustaceans,
small fish, and fatty matter of any kind. They are nocturnal, during the
breeding season at all events, only leaving their retreat after dark and
returning before dawn, so that it is very difficult to detect their
presence. The sitting bird, however, utters a curious note while
sitting, and a strong musky odour pervades the burrow, so that by this
means the nest may frequently be found. If handled, the bird emits a
greenish oil.

In England it only nests sparingly on the coast of Wales and in the
Scilly Islands, but in Scotland and Ireland its breeding places are
numerous.

The adult is sooty black all over, but the bases of the tail coverts are
white and the edges of the wing coverts are slightly edged with white.
Length 6·5 in.; wing 4·7 in.



                       LEACH’S FORK-TAILED PETREL
                   Oceanodroma leucorrhoa (Vieillot)


This species is a regular but not very numerous visitor to our shores
every autumn, its numbers depending largely on the weather, and after
heavy gales it is often found inland. It nests in small numbers on St.
Kilda and some of the Outer Hebrides, and has also been found nesting
off the coast of Kerry; and in time many other breeding stations will
probably be found on the islands of our western shores. The single egg
is white freckled with rusty spots. In its food and habits it resembles,
so far as they are known, those of the Storm Petrel.

The adult is dark leaden black, rather more sooty below; upper tail
coverts white; tail sooty black and deeply forked. Length 8 in.; wing 6
in.

                [Illustration: STORM PETREL
                _Procellaria pelagica_
                (right)
                LEACH’S PETREL
                _Oceanodromas leucorrhoa_
                (left)]



                      MADEIRAN FORK-TAILED PETREL
                     Oceanodroma castro (Harcourt)


An example of this bird was picked up dead in Kent in December 1895.

The home of this species is the islands lying off the west of Africa,
viz. Cape Verde, Madeira, Desertas, Salvages, and Canaries, from whence
individuals occasionally wander to Europe.

This species very closely resembles Leach’s Petrel, but the tail is
hardly forked; the upper tail coverts are white tipped with black; and
the bases of the tail feathers are white. Length nearly 8 in.; wing 5·9
in.



                            WILSON’S PETREL
                       Oceanites oceanicus (Kuhl)


This bird is almost cosmopolitan in distribution, but perhaps the South
Atlantic is its main home, and it is commoner up the North American
coast than on this side. Several examples have been shot in this
country. The legs and wings are longer than in the preceding species and
the webs of the feet are _yellow_ at their bases. The general colour
above and below is sooty brown with white on upper tail coverts and
thigh patches, and also at the base of the outer tail feathers. Length 7
in.; wing 6 in.



                           THE FRIGATE PETREL
                      Pelagodroma marina (Latham)


Of late years two examples of this Petrel have been washed up on our
shores. The Salvages are the nearest breeding haunts of this species,
but it is also found in the south seas.

The crown, nape, and patch behind the eye are slate grey; upper parts
grey; wing coverts brown; quills blackish. Tail black; under parts white
tinged with grey on the flanks. Length 7·75 in.; wing 6·25 in.



                          THE GREAT SHEARWATER
                       Puffinus gravis, O’Reilly


This species is a fairly regular summer visitor to the waters round our
coasts, but it does not often approach the land.

Nothing is known of its breeding haunts, which are probably in the
Antarctic seas.

The upper parts are ash brown, mottled with white on the upper tail
coverts. Under parts white, sometimes brownish on the belly. Legs
pinkish. Length 19 in.; wing 12·7 in.



                          THE SOOTY SHEARWATER
                    Puffinus griseus (J. F. Gmelin)


This species visits us yearly but is much scarcer than the Great
Shearwater.

Its only known nesting haunts are in Chatham Islands and others near New
Zealand, but the birds which visit us probably nest in the South
Atlantic.

The whole of the plumage is brown, rather greyer below and more mottled.
Legs blackish outside, lilac grey within. Length 18 in.; wing 12 in.



                   THE MEDITERRANEAN GREAT SHEARWATER
                         Puffinus kuhli (Boie)


A single specimen of this Atlantic and Mediterranean Shearwater was
picked up on the Sussex coast in 1906. It is similar to the Dusky
Shearwater but greyer, wings and tail blackish brown, under parts pure
white. Length 17·25 in.; wing 12·75 in.



                          THE MANX SHEARWATER
                      Puffinus anglorum (Temminck)


The Manx Shearwater is the commonest of the Shearwaters that are found
round our coasts. It is resident with us throughout the year, feeding
chiefly on fish, offal, etc., that it finds on or near the surface.

During the nesting season it retires to secluded parts of the coast,
where it lays its single white egg in rabbit-burrows or other crevices.
It is not known to breed on the east coast, but down the west from Wales
northwards as well as in Ireland it breeds commonly, though from its
nocturnal habits the nest is not always easy to find.

It may be distinguished when flying by its rounded wings and its habit
of progressing with wings held motionless close over the surface of the
water.

The crown, nape, and upper parts are sooty black, under parts white,
except for a patch of sooty brown behind the thighs; legs and feet
flesh-coloured; outer toes black. Length 15 in.; wing 9·5 in.



                      THE LITTLE DUSKY SHEARWATER
                       Puffinus assimilis, Gould


This is another species inhabiting the Salvages and islands off the west
coast of Africa.

Some three or four examples have been obtained, which were originally
wrongly identified as _P. obscurus_, an American species.

The upper parts are slaty black and under parts white. Bill and legs
blackish; webs yellow. Length 10·5 in.; wing 7·4 in.



                           THE CAPPED PETREL
                       Æstrelata hæsitata (Kuhl)


Extremely little is known of this species, which used to nest in the
West Indies. It has occurred here on one occasion only.

The crown, nape, and mantle are dark brown; hind-neck and upper tail
coverts white; cheeks grey; forehead and under parts white; central tail
feathers brownish black; the rest, white edged with brown. Length 16
in.; wing 11·3 in.



                          THE COLLARED PETREL
                       Æstrelata brevipes (Peale)


A single example of this Petrel was obtained off the coast of Wales in
December 1889. The southern and western Pacific appear to be its true
home.

The crown is slaty grey; rest of upper parts darker, becoming browner on
the wing coverts. Forehead and throat white; rest of under parts white,
sometimes tinged with grey. Length 11·5 in.; wing 8·7 in.



                            BULWER’S PETREL
                  Bulweria bulweri (Jardine and Selby)


This small Petrel is a common resident in the Canaries and neighbouring
islands, but only one individual has straggled to our shores.

The plumage is of a uniform sooty brown; tail wedge-shaped. Bill black.
Legs reddish brown. Length 11 in.; wing 8 in.



                               THE FULMAR
                      Fulmarus glacialis (Linnæus)


Although not very rare, this bird is seldom seen, as it spends most of
its time at sea in attendance on the fishing-boats or on the banks where
the fish abound. In Scotland it nests on St. Kilda and a few of the
other islands of that group; while in the Shetlands, where it was first
known to nest in 1878, it has now spread to several of the neighbouring
stacks.

The nest is placed on a ledge on the face of a precipitous cliff, and
the single egg is pure white with a few reddish-brown spots. The young
are at first nourished on a yellowish oil vomited by the parent birds,
and large numbers are annually taken in St. Kilda for the sake of this
oil. It may easily be distinguished from a Gull on the wing by its
peculiar flight and rounded wings.

The back and tail are grey, the rest of the bird white. Bill yellowish;
legs ash colour. The young resemble their parents. The more northerly
form of this bird has greyish under parts and may be met with in
Scotland in winter. Length 19 in.; wing 13·25 in.



                       THE BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS
                       Diomedea melanophrys, Boie


The true home of this species is in the southern seas near the Chatham
Islands and New Zealand, but it has been known for some time past to
occasionally visit the North Atlantic.

A specimen was obtained near Cambridge on the 9th of July 1897.

The adult has a short black band passing through and above the eyes;
back and wings brownish black; tail feathers grey; rest of the plumage
white. Length 27 in.; wing 17 in.



                                 INDEX


                                   A
  Accentor, Alpine, 70
      Hedge, 67
  Albatross, Black-browed, 399
  Auk, Great, 377
      Little, 380
  Avocet, 312


                                   B
  Bee-Eater, 184
  Bittern, American, 228
      Common, 227
      Little, 227
  Blackbird, 15
  Blackcap, 45
  Bluethroat, 34
  Brambling, 128
  Bullfinch, 135
  Bunting, Black-headed, 139
      Cirl, 143
      Corn, 140
      Lapland, 149
      Little, 146
      Meadow, 145
      Ortolan, 144
      Reed, 147
      Rustic, 145
      Siberian Meadow, 145
      Snow, 150
      Yellow, 141
      Yellow-breasted, 147
  Bustard, Great, 292
      Little, 292
      Macqueen’s, 293
  Buzzard, Common, 201
      Honey, 210
      Rough-legged, 203


                                   C
  Capercaillie, 274
  Chaffinch, 126
  Chiffchaff, 53
      Siberian, 54
  Chough, 154
  Coot, 290
  Cormorant, 219
  Courser, Cream-coloured, 296
  Crake, Baillon’s, 287
      Little, 286
      Spotted, 285
  Crane, 291
  Creeper, Tree-, 85
      Wall-, 85
  Crossbill, 137
      Two-barred, 139
  Crow, Carrion, 163
      Hooded, 164
  Cuckoo, 186
      American Yellow-billed, 189
      Great Spotted, 189
  Curlew, 347
      Eskimo, 349


                                   D
  Dabchick, Little Grebe or, 390
  Dipper, 70
  Diver, Black-throated, 384
      Great Northern, 383
      Red-throated, 385
      White-billed Northern, 384
  Dotterel, 296
  Dove, Rock, 271
      Stock, 270
      Turtle, 272
  Duck, Buffel-headed, 258
      Common Sheld, 239
      Eider, 260
      Ferruginous, 254
      Golden-eye, 257
      Harlequin, 259
      Long-tailed, 258
      Mallard, or Wild, 241
      Ruddy Sheld, 240
      Scaup, 256
      Tufted, 255
  Dunlin, 324


                                   E
  Eagle, Golden, 204
      Spotted, 203
      White-tailed, 205
  Egret, Little, 225
  Eider, King, 261
      Steller’s, 261


                                   F
  Falcon, Greenland, 211
      Gyr, 211
      Iceland, 211
      Red-footed, 215
  Fieldfare, 10
  Finch, Citril, 120
  Firecrest, 51
  Flamingo, 230
  Flycatcher, Pied, 107
      Red-breasted, 108
      Spotted, 105
  Fulmar, 398


                                   G
  Gadwall, 244
  Gannet, 222
  Garganey, 250
  Godwit, Bar-tailed, 345
      Black-tailed, 346
  Goldfinch, 117
  Goosander, 264
  Goose, Bean, 233
      Bernacle, 235
      Brent, 235
      Grey Lag, 231
      Pink-footed, 233
      Red-breasted, 234
      Snow, 234
      White-fronted, 232
  Goshawk, 206
  Grebe, Black-necked or Eared, 389
      Great Crested, 387
      Little, 390
      Red-necked, 388
      Slavonian or Horned, 389
  Greenfinch, 114
  Greenshank, 343
  Grosbeak, Pine, 137
      Scarlet, 136
  Grouse, Black, 275
      Pallas’ Sand, 273
      Red, 276
  Guillemot, Black, 379
      Brünnich’s, 379
      Common, 377
  Gull, Black-headed, 360
      Bonaparte’s, 359
      Common, 363
      Glaucous, 368
      Greater Black-backed, 367
      Great Black-headed, 362
      Herring, 364
      Iceland, 369
      Ivory, 371
      Kittiwake, 369
      Lesser Black-backed, 366
      Little, 360
      Mediterranean Black-headed, 362
      Sabine’s, 358
      Wedge-tailed, 359


                                   H
  Harrier, Hen, 200
      Marsh, 199
      Montagu’s, 200
  Hawfinch, 115
  Hawk, Sparrow, 207
  Hen, Moor, 288
  Heron, 223
      Buff-backed, 225
      Great White, 225
      Night, 226
      Purple, 224
      Squacco, 226
  Hobby, 214
  Hoopoe, 185
  House-Martin, 112
      Sparrow, 121


                                   I
  Ibis, Glossy, 229


                                   J
  Jackdaw, 160
  Jay, 156


                                   K
  Kestrel, 216
      Lesser, 218
  Kingfisher, 182
  Kite, 208
      Black, 210
  Knot, 330


                                   L
  Lapwing, 306
  Lark, Black, 171
      Crested, 170
      Shore, 172
      Short-toed, 170
      White-winged, 171
      Wood, 169
  Linnet, 129


                                   M
  Magpie, 159
  Mallard, or Wild Duck, 241
  Martin, House-, 112
      Sand-, 113
  Merganser, Hooded, 267
      Red-breasted, 265
  Merlin, 214
  Moor-hen, 288


                                   N
  Nightingale, 38
  Nightjar, 175
  Noddy, 358
  Nutcracker, 156
  Nuthatch, 81


                                   O
  Oriole, Golden, 99
  Osprey, 219
  Ouzel, Ring, 19
  Owl, Barn, 190
      Eagle, 197
      Hawk, 196
      Little, 195
      Long-eared, 191
      Scops, 197
      Short-eared, 192
      Snowy, 196
      Tawny, 193
      Tengmalm’s, 194
  Oyster-Catcher, 310


                                   P
  Partridge, 280
      Red-legged, 281
  Pastor, Rose-coloured, 154
  Peregrine, 212
  Petrel, Bulwer’s, 398
      Capped, 397
      Collared, 397
      Frigate, 393
      Leach’s Fork-tailed, 392
      Madeiran Fork-tailed, 393
      Storm, 391
      Wilson’s, 393
  Phalarope, Grey, 314
      Red-necked, 315
  Pheasant, 279
  Pigeon, Wood, 268
  Pintail, 247
  Pipit, Meadow, 94
      Red-throated, 95
      Richard’s, 97
      Rock, 98
      Tawny, 96
      Tree, 92
      Water, 97
  Plover, Caspian, 298
      Golden, 302
      Grey, 305
      Kentish, 301
      Killdeer, 302
      Lesser Golden, 304
      Little Ringed, 301
      Ringed, 298
      Sociable, 306
  Pochard, Common, 253
      Red-crested, 252
  Pratincole, 295
      Black-winged, 296
  Ptarmigan, 278
  Puffin, 381


                                   Q
  Quail, 282


                                   R
  Rail, Land, 283
      Water, 287
  Raven, 161
  Razorbill, 375
  Redpoll, Lesser, 132
      Mealy, 131
  Redshank, Common, 340
      Spotted, 342
  Redstart, 31
      Black, 33
  Redwing, 8
  Reedling, Bearded, 71
  Robin, 35
  Roller, 184
  Rook, 165
  Ruff, 333


                                   S
  Sand-Martin, 113
  Sanderling, 331
  Sandpiper, American Pectoral, 322
      Baird’s, 326
      Bartram’s, 335
      Bonaparte’s, 323
      Broad-billed, 321
      Buff-breasted, 335
      Common, 336
      Curlew, 328
      Green, 338
      Purple, 329
      Siberian Pectoral, 323
      Solitary, 339
      Spotted, 337
      Wood, 337
  Scoter, Common, 262
      Surf, 264
      Velvet, 263
  Serin, 121
  Shag, 221
  Shearwater, Great, 394
      Little Dusky, 396
      Manx, 395
      Mediterranean Great, 395
      Sooty, 395
  Shoveller, 245
  Shrike, Great Grey, 100
      Lesser Grey, 101
      Masked, 104
      Red-backed, 102
  Siskin, 119
  Skua, Arctic or Richardson’s, 373
      Great, 371
      Long-tailed or Buffous, 374
      Pomatorhine, 372
  Skylark, 167
  Smew, 266
  Snipe, Common, 319
      Great or Solitary, 318
      Jack, 321
      Red-breasted, 345
  Snow-Finch, 129
  Sparrow, “Hedge,” 67
      House-, 121
      Tree-, 124
  Spoonbill, 230
  Starling, 151
  Stilt, Black-winged, 313
  Stint, American, 327
      Little, 326
      Temminck’s, 327
  Stone-Curlew, 293
  Stonechat, 29
      Siberian, 31
  Stork, Black, 229
      White, 228
  Swallow, 109
      Red-rumped, 111
  Swan, Bewick’s, 237
      Mute, 237
      Whooper, 236
  Swift, 173
      Alpine, 175


                                   T
  Teal, 248
      American Green-winged, 249
      Blue-winged, 249
  Tern, Arctic, 356
      Black, 349
      Caspian, 352
      Common, 354
      Gull-billed, 351
      Little, 357
      Roseate, 353
      Sandwich, 352
      Sooty, 358
      Whiskered, 351
      White-winged Black, 350
  Thrush, Black-throated, 14
      Dusky, 18
      Missel, 1
      Rock, 22
      Song, 4
      White’s, 14
  Tit, Bearded, 71
      Blue, 79
      Coal, 77
      Crested, 81
      Great, 75
      Long-tailed, 74
      Marsh, 78
  Tree-Creeper, 85
      Sparrow, 124
  Turnstone, 309
  Twite, 133


                                   V
  Vulture, Egyptian, 198
      Griffon, 198


                                   W
  Wagtail, Blue-headed, 90
      Grey, 89
      Pied, 86
      White, 88
      Yellow, 91
  Wall-Creeper, 85
  Warbler, Aquatic, 66
      Barred, 47
      Cetti’s, 59
      Dartford, 48
      Garden, 46
      Grasshopper, 65
      Great Reed, 63
      Greenish Willow, 52
      Icterine, 59
      Marsh, 62
      Melodious, 60
      Orphean, 44
      Pallas’ Willow, 52
      Radde’s Bush, 58
      Reed, 60
      Rufous, 58
      Sardinian, 44
      Savi’s, 66
      Sedge, 63
      Sub-Alpine, 48
      Yellow-browed, 51
  Waxwing, 104
  Wheatear, 22
      Black-eared, 26
      Black-throated, 26
      Desert, 27
      Isabelline, 25
  Whimbrel, 348
  Whinchat, 27
  Whitethroat, 40
      Lesser, 42
  Wigeon, 251
      American, 252
  Woodchat, 103
  Woodcock, 317
  Woodpecker, Greater Spotted, 180
      Green, 179
      Lesser Spotted, 181
  Wren, 83
      Golden-crested, 50
      Willow, 55
      Wood, 56
  Wryneck, 177


                                   Y
  Yellow Hammer or Yellow Bunting, 141
  Yellowshank, 340
      Greater, 340


                                THE END


           _Printed by_ R. & R. Clark, Limited, _Edinburgh_.


  AGENTS
  America
            The Macmillan Company
              64 & 66 Fifth Avenue, New York
  Canada
            The Macmillan Company of Canada, Ltd.
              27 Richmond Street West, Toronto
  India
            Macmillan & Company, Ltd.
              Macmillan Building, Bombay
              309 Bow Bazaar Street, Calcutta



                          Transcriber’s Notes


—Retained copyright information from the printed edition: this eBook is
  public-domain in the country of publication.

—Silently corrected a few palpable typos.

—In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by
  _underscores_.





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About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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