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Birds in London

Birds in London

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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Birds in London, by W. H. Hudson, Illustrated by Bryan Hook, A. D. McCormick, and R. B. Lodge

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org

Title: Birds in London

Author: W. H. Hudson

Release Date: July 25, 2012 [eBook #40334]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8

***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK BIRDS IN LONDON***

 

E-text prepared by René Anderson Benitz, Adrian Mastronardi,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
(http://www.pgdp.net)
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive/American Libraries
(http://archive.org/details/americana)

 

Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/American Libraries. See http://archive.org/details/cu31924090264866

 


 


‘THE CROW WITH HIS VOICE OF CARE’

BIRDS IN LONDON

BY
W. H. HUDSON, F.Z.S.

ILLUSTRATED BY BRYAN HOOK, A. D. McCORMICK
AND FROM PHOTOGRAPHS FROM NATURE BY R. B. LODGE

 

 

LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
NEW YORK AND BOMBAY
1898

All rights reserved



PREFACE

The opening chapter contains, by way of introduction, all that need be said concerning the object and scope of this work; it remains to say here that, as my aim has been to furnish an account of the London wild bird life of to-day, there was little help to be had from the writings of previous observers. These mostly deal with the central parks, and are interesting now, mainly, as showing the changes that have taken place. At the end of the volume a list will be found of the papers and books on the subject which are known to me. This list will strike many readers as an exceedingly meagre one, when it is remembered that London has always been a home of ornithologists—that from the days of Oliver Goldsmith, who wrote pleasantly of the Temple Gardens rookery, and of Thomas Pennant and his friend Daines Barrington, there have never been wanting observers of the wild bird life within our gates: The fact remains that, with the exception of a few incidental passages to be found in various ornithological works, nothing was expressly written about the birds of London until James Jennings’s ‘Ornithologia’ saw the light a little over seventy years ago. Jennings’s work was a poem, probably the worst ever written in the English language; but as he inserted copious notes, fortunately in prose, embodying his own observations on the bird life of east and south-east London, the book has a very considerable interest for us to-day. Nothing more of importance appeared until the late Shirley Hibberd’s lively paper on ‘London Birds’ in 1865. From that date onward the subject has attracted an increased attention, and at present we have a number of London or park naturalists, as they might be called, who view the resident London species as adapted to an urban life, and who chronicle their observations in the ‘Field,’ ‘Nature,’ ‘Zoologist,’ ‘Nature Notes,’ and other natural history journals, and in the newspapers and magazines.

To return to the present work. Treating of actualities I have been obliged for the most part to gather my own materials, relying perhaps too much on my own observation; since London is now too vast a field for any person, however diligent, to know it intimately in all its extent.

Probably any reader who is an observer of birds on his own account, and has resided for some years near a park or other open space in London, will be able to say, by way of criticism, that I have omitted some important or interesting fact known to him—something that ought to have had a place in a work of this kind. In such a case I can only plead either that the fact was not known to me, or that I had some good reason for not using it. Moreover, there is a limit to the amount of matter which can be included in a book of this kind, and a selection had to be made from a large number of facts and anecdotes I had got together.

All the matter contained in this book, with the exception of one article, or part of an article, on London birds, in the ‘Saturday Review,’ now appears for the first time.

In conclusion, I have to express my warm thanks to those who have helped me in my task, by supplying me with fresh information, and in other ways.

W. H. H.

London: April, 1898.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER I
THE BIRDS AND THE BOOK
PAGE
A handbook of London birds considered—Reasons for not writing it—Changes in the character of the wild bird population, and supposed cause—The London sparrow—Its abundance—Bread-begging habits—Monotony—Its best appearance—Beautiful finches—Value of open spaces—The sparrows’ afternoon tea in Hyde Park—Purpose of this book 1
CHAPTER II
CROWS IN LONDON
A short general account of the London crows—The magpie—The jay—London ravens—The Enfield ravens—The Hyde Park ravens—The Tower ravens—The carrion crow, rook, and jackdaw 20
CHAPTER III
THE CARRION CROW IN THE BALANCE
The crow in London—Persecuted in the royal parks—Degradation of Hyde Park—Ducks in the Serpentine: how they are thinned—Shooting a chicken with a revolver—Habits of the Hyde Park mallard—Anecdotes—Number of London crows—The crow a long-lived bird: a bread-eater—Anecdote—Seeks its food on the river—The crow as a pet—Anecdotes 32

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