Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

insect-life is so immense, that they will not play a very important part in helping us. No one shoots birds in the bush round us."

Referring to one of the modes adopted by Mr. Gooch for tilling the larvae, Mr. Dunning suggested that rubbing the bark of the trees round the roots, as stated, would hardly have the desired effect, and would probably damage the tree more than the insect. Dr. Horn (of Philadelphia) also doubted the efficacy of the remedy of inserting wires in the holes, which he compared to shutting the stable-door when the steed was stolen. He stated that in Philadelphia a public park hud been planted with a great many different kinds of exotic trees, and amongst them were some pines, which were all destroyed by two of their native species, Callidium antennatum and Monobammus dentator. None of their native trees suffered, but the foreign Conifers were killed immediately. Dr. Horn also stated that it was his belief that the Longicorns attack healthy trees, and that the Conifera e in question had been previously noticed as the finest and healthiest young trees in the park. The lime trees from Europe were also destroyed in a similar manner by hosts of Saperdae. Mr. M'Lachlan repeated what he had stated on a former occasion, that European entomologists generally were of opinion that the majority of the European species of Longicorns do not attack living trees while in a perfectly healthy state.

Papers read.

Mr. A. G. Butler communicated a paper entitled "Descriptions of some New Species and a New Genus of Diurnal Lepidoptera in the Collection of Herbert Druce, Esq."

M. Henri Deyrolle communicated some "Descriptions of New Species of Lucanidse, from the Collection of Major F. J. Sidney Parry."

Mr. Frederick Smith read a paper entitled "A Revision of the Hymenopterous Genera Cleptes, Parnopes, Anthracias, Pyria and Stilbum, with Descriptions of New Species of those Genera and also of New Species of the Genus Chrysis from North China and from Australia." With regard to the genus Anthracias in the above paper, Mr. Smith remarked that a genus had been created by Klug, in the ' Beriehte,' under that name, but that the detailed generic characters had not been given, although he had mentioned the essential one,—that of the abdomen being composed above, of only two (visible) segments, instead of three, as in the other Hymenoptera. No mention had been made of it by any other hymenopterist, and nobody appeared to know anything about it; but latterly he had purchased the collection of Mr. Shuckard, and in it he had found a single imperfect specimen, which was undoubtedly belonging to the genus described by Klug. It was mixed with specimens of Parnopes carnea, for which it had no doubt been mistaken, and which it very much resembled.—F. G.

Introduction to the 'Birds of Great Britain.' By John Gould. London: Printed for the Author. 1873. Deuiy 8vo, 135 pp. Price five shillings and sixpence.

In pursuance of the course which he adopted when preparing the introductory matter of his works on the 'Birds of Australia,' the 'Mammals of Australia,' and the 'Monograph of Trochilidae,' Mr. Gould has had this Introduction to the ' Birds of Great Britain' set up in smaller type for the convenience of correcting before printing it in the folio form. This smaller work is not, therefore, in any way intended as a substitute for the letterpress of the folio work, but rather as a general summary accessible to all, the price of the complete and splendidly illustrated folio being prohibitory to such ornithologists as myself, men who have the same taste for Birds as the Regal and Princely subscribers to the more expensive luxury, but not the same means of indulging that taste, and who must therefore perforce be contented with this "general summary," in perusing which they will find much that is instructive and comparatively new, although, like an auctioneer's catalogue, it gives but a very superficial idea of the treasures enumerated. Still this smaller production contains some statements with which 1 cannot altogether agree, and a classification which seems unaccountably retrogressive, in the face of the more extended knowledge which the author has abundantly shown himself to possess, of the immature states of his feathered friends, knowledge that should, as I think, have been digested and arranged—in a word, " utilized" —for our instruction.

Unfortunately for me, this announcement will elicit a smile of something like contempt from my readers, most of whom would doubtless consider Mr. Gould infallible, and far above the reach of any criticism of mine; still the office of critic is compulsory, and honesty in criticism is a duty: therefore I proceed. At p. 15 of Mr. Gould's work it is stated that toucans, trogons and humming-birds are confined exclusively to the New World. I thought it was otherwise; 1 will not cite Mr. Stanley, who has peopled the banks of Tanganyika with gorgeous toucans, or Mrs. Haines, whose highly poetic spirit was charmed with the metallic humming-birds of

SECOND SEBIES—VOL. IX. 2 O

Bombay. I decline this support to my opinion, because the authority on these instances may be doubled, or perhaps denied; but while rejecting the evidence as regards these two beautiful families of birds, I think it might be shown that my objection to Mr. Gould's statement holds good as regards the trogons, several species of which have been recorded as inhabitants of the Eastern Archipelago, and one as native on the continent of Africa.

Again, I think there must be some mistake, probably a printer's, —for they make sad havoc of an author's meaning,—in placing the willow wrens and the goldcrests in the family Certhiidae: it is easy to trace something of a connection between Phyllopueuste and Regulus through the delicate Reguloides, but I think not with Certhia. Mr. Gould calls this a "singular bark-loving family," an epithet very easy to understand when applied to Certhia and Tichodroma, but which appears singularly inapplicable to the group as extended by himself.

On the subject of partial or unaccepted migration Mr. Gould has much to say. In June, 1845, I revived, in the pages of the 'Zoologist' that truthful paragraph in Bewick's 'Birds' which begins "Most birds are in some measure birds of passage," and then I went on to show that the phenomenon of partial migration was of more frequent and more exteuded occurreuce than is generally supposed; I found that the so-called "soft-billed" or insectivorous birds were by no means exclusively the migrants, but that the hard-billed birds, the inveterate and determined seedeaters, were also addicted to travel, and left the place of their nativity in large flocks as soon as they were thoroughly able to shift for themselves. I instanced the goldfinch, which is abundant at Leominster throughout the spring and autumn, but retires before winter, and is heard and seen no more until it returns to our gardens and orchards in the spring, and resumes the duties of nidificalion, incubation and increase. Ornithologists, of course, expressed their dissent; but, so far as I recollect, attributed my misstatements entirely to ignorance, and acquitted me of all intention to mislead.

Mr. Knox, however, some years later (at p. 75 et seq. of his 'Ornithological Rambles'), not only confirms the statement, but gives corroborative evidence from a variety of sources, more especially personal observation. He describes the manner in which the migrants arrive on the coast of Sussex in the autumn, gradually moving eastward in order to pass the sea at the narrowest part. "The advanced guard of this emigrant host," says Mr. Knox, "usually makes its appearance in the neighbourhood of Worthing, Shoreham and Brighton, about the latter end of August or early in September, and is generally composed of detachments of meadow pipits, pied wagtails, tree pipits and yellow wagtails, the two firstnamed species being generally understood to be permanent residents in England during the whole year. Many of these birds certainly do remain with us during the winter, but I am disposed to think that these are the natives of more northern and western counties, which having proceeded thus far towards the south-east are, as it were, satisfied with this partial migration, and do not cross the Channel, unless subsequently compelled to do so by unusual severity of weather at a much later period of the year." I pause to say that I cannot accept this solution as satisfactory, for if the migratory flock waited on the coast until compelled to cross by stress of weather they must soon become uncomfortably crowded, and again we rarely find birds migrating in any numbers in the winter season; but I will proceed with Mr. Knox's account of unaccepted migration, which precisely corresponds with my own views and my own repeated observations. "But the troops of these autumnal voyagers do not consist merely of dentirostral or exclusively insectivorous birds; the conirostral tribe furnishes many recruits; goldfinches, linnets, and greenfinches pass in considerable numbers, and such multitudes of the first-named species are occasionally taken that the market of the song-bird dealers is completely glutted with them, even their most capacious family cages being completely filled with recently captured goldfiuches." A Mr. Robert Gray, of Worthing, a few years later, writing in the 'Zoologist' for 1860, states that he has made it his especial business to inquire about the number of goldfinches transmitted every autumn from that place to London for sale, and found it amount to eight hundred dozen in six weeks. The Rev. Arthur Hussey, of Rottingdean, gives in the same periodical, and at the same date, some additional particulars of this extraordinary branch of industry. He writes thus:—"In a statement I have received from one of the birdcatchers here he gives the enormous number of 13,848 goldfinches per annum as sent from Worthing alone, but the statement is so made that it may be somewhat fallacious. Only four of the catchers send the birds to Loudon, three or four always taking what the others catch at the rate of four shillings a dozen. For their own protection in settling accounts with the London purchasers, the above four are obliged to enter in a book the number sent. I applied to the most respectable among them, and he has his book still, but two have not kept them, so that I could not get the numbers correctly, but this young man said he knew exactly how many went out catching, so that, reckoning each man's share to be equal, it gives the prodigious number before mentioned. The birds are sold to the dealers at five shillings a dozen for males and two shillings a dozen for females." The following statement of the number of goldfinches caught at Worthing in a year is from the same source:—

In January, February, March aud June, none.

April ..... about 4 dozen.

May „ 10 „

July - - - - 5 „

August - - - - - „ 15 „

September - - - - „ 20 „

October - „ 760 „

November - - - - - „ 300 „

December - - - - „ 50 „

Total - about 1154 dozen.

Hence we may conclude the migration of seed-eating birds is a phenomenon as regular, though not so complete, as that of the insect-eaters.

It seemed desirable thus to travel over the previously explored ground, before quoting Mr. Gould's valuable observations both on migration generally and on partial or unsystematic migration: I now take up the former theme, quoting Mr. Gould:—

"Besides being tenanted by about one hundred and fifty stationary species, Great Britain has migrants and occasional visitants from the four points of the compass; thus, in spring, nearly fifty species visit us from the south—whilst iu the autumn our milder and more equable climate attracts a still larger number from the north, who instinctively know they will here find that food and shelter, which the rigorous winters of more northern regions deny to them. In addition to this true and characteristic migration, our islands are occasionally resorted to by certain species which, from some unknown cause, make a movement from east to west; whilst the pseudomigration from west to east is exemplified in the rarely occurring American

« AnteriorContinuar »