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all sorts of birds seek this shelter on which to feed, to rest, or to hide. Perhaps the first bird you shoot is a sky-lark; the report of your gun may start a golden plover or a jack snipe ; then, may be, you see some small birds picking insects off the potato-leaves, and you prosently secure a little bunting, an aquatic warbler, and a shore-lark. Your next shot may be a corncrake, followed by a king ouzel, and Richard's pipit or a teal. Then perhaps a great spotted woodpecker or a short-eared owl attracts your attention. You can scarcely take a step without putting up a bird of some species. But every night is not a migration-night. Sometimes day after day, for a week or more, you may diligently tramp the potatoes without finding a single bird. Migration is a question of wind and weather. By long experience the Heligolanders know when to expect an arrival of birds; and on favourable nights they watch by their “throstle-bushes to secure their game. There are scarcely any trees on the island, so the peasants make artificial bushes, with a net on one side, into which the poor thrushes are driven with sticks and lanterns as soon as they alight. Some hundreds are thus frequently caught in one night. The islanders describe with great gusto the impetuous arrival of the birds. On a sudden, without a moment's warning, a rush and whirl of wings is heard, and the throstle-bush swarms with blackbirds and thrushes, not dropped, but apparently shot like an arrow from a bow, perpendicularly down from the invisible heights of mid-air. The migration of skylarks as observed on Heligoland is even more remarkable. On the 6th of November, 1868, fifteen thousand of these birds were caught by the islanders. On the 12th of October, 1876, I had the good fortune to witness one of these great migrations of skylarks. For a week previously, while I was on the island, the weather was unfavourable; there were scarcely half-a-dozen birds on the island. On the 11th I shot three shore-larks, and was informed that the appearance of this Arctic species was a very hopeful sign. On the following day the west winds, which had been blowing hard for some days, slackened a little; in the afternoon it was calm with a rising barometer, and in the evening a breeze sprang up from the south-east. Gätke advised me to retire early and to be up before sunrise in the morning, when, in all probability, I should find the island swarming with birds. Soon after midnight I was awakened with the news that the migrants had arrived. Hastily dressing, I at once made for the lighthouse. The night was almost pitch-dark, but the town was all astir. In every street men with large lanterns and nets, like an angler's landing-net, were walking towards the lighthouse. As I crossed the potato-fields birds continually got up at my feet, and when I reached the lighthouse an intensely interesting sight presented itself. The whole of the zone of light within range of the mirrors was alive with birds coming and going. Nothing else was visible in the darkness of the night but the lantern of the lighthouse vignetted in a drifting sea of birds. From the darkness in the east clouds of birds were continually emerging in an uninterrupted stream; a few swerved from their course, fluttered for a moment as if dazzled by the light, and then gradually vanished with the rest in the western gloom. Occasionally a bird wheeled round the lighthouse and then passed on, and occasionally one fluttered against the glass, like a moth against a lamp, tried to perch on the wire netting, and was caught by the lighthouse man. I should be afraid to hazard a guess as to the hundreds of thousands that must have passed in a couple of hours, but the stray birds which the lighthouse man succeeded in securing amounted to nearly three hundred. The scene from the balcony of the lighthouse was equally interesting; in every direction the birds were flying like a swarm of bees, and every few seconds one fiew against the glass. All the birds seemed to be flying up wind, and it was only on the lee side of the light that any birds were caught. They were nearly all skylarks, but in the heap captured I saw one redstart and one reed-bunting. The air was filled with the warbling cry of the larks; now and then a thrush was heard, and once a heron screamed as it passed by. The night was starless and the town invisible, but the island looked like the outskirts of a gas-lighted city, being sprinkled over with lanterns. Many of the larks alighted on the ground to rest, and allowed the Heligolanders to pass their nets over them. About three o'clock in the morning a heavy thunderstorm came on with deluges of rain, and a few breaks in the clouds revealed the stars. The migration came to an end, or continued above the range of our vision, and, we will hope, above the reach of the tempest.'
When the regular time of autumn migration arrives, it is, most wonderful to say, the birds of the year which are the first to migrate, and which consequently can have had no experience whatever of the route they have to follow. An exceptional old bird or two, however, will often depart before the proper time of migration has come. After the birds of the year, follow the males, to be succeeded by the females, while the cripples—birds which have met with various injuriesfollow last as best they may. In the spring, however, the full-grown males come first, then the females, and finally the birds of the
year. But besides that regular alternating movement called 'migration,' other changes, which are irregular, also occur. Such may be known to take place occasionally, or we may know of but one such movement in the history of species. A change of this kind may be fitly called an “emigration. The most remarkable movement of the kind was one which was made by a bird, called from its discoverer, Pallas's sand-grouse, during the last quarter of a century. This species, which is much less like a grouse than its name would imply, had its home in the steppes of Central Asia. In 1859, a few individuals made their appearance in Western Europe, extending as far as North Wales and Kent; but in 1863, many hundreds, if not thousands, of these birds arrived in one quarter of the world, extending from the Pyrenees to Scandinavia, and even to Archangel. They spread themselves almost all over our island, some reaching the Scilly Islands, and others going to the Shetlands and the Faroes. In very various places they attempted to breed, and many eggs were taken, nor can it be doubted but that the range of the species would have been thus as permanently as suddenly extended but for the zeal of sportsmen, gamekeepers, and ornithologists, anxious to obtain 'specimens. Since then, we have again and again been visited, and it may well be that after all it may establish itself in localities so distant from its first known home, if it may not even be said to have already done so with us.
It cannot be doubted by any modern naturalist, that in past ages the emigration of different species of birds has been as widespread and complicated as those of man himself. These past emigrations may probably afford us some explanation as to migration. We are further helped by our knowledge that birds have an extraordinary memory for localities. The same individuals will often return to breed in the same identical spots year after year, in spite of the thousands of miles they traverse between each annual visit to it. Moreover, the movement of migration is not always accurately performed, for a few birds do go astray. This is shown by various accidental visitors which occasionally come to our shores, especially from North America, the majority of which are also young birds. Nevertheless, it is most wonderful that so few thus lose themselves even amongst birds of the first year. The desire to migrate is certainly an hereditary instinctive feeling, and its performance is aided by the keen sight which birds possess, and their wonderful automatic memory of localities. Nevertheless, after all has been said that can be said, the process remains still mysterious and unexplained. How can either a keen sight or memory of localities serve to guide the birds over those vast distances of sea, which they yearly pass over with unerring security, as regards the great majority of the individuals in each flight?
The consideration of the appearance of species in localities, where they have never before been seen, naturally leads us to speak of the disappearance of other kinds which have passed away from localities where they were once abundant, or even totally disappeared and become extinct altogether. Thus, that large handsome species, the great bustard, was once abundant in
England England in the open country. It was especially so in Salisbury Plain, and also on the Sussex Downs, in Norfolk and in Lincolnshire. In the last-named county it seems to have become extinc bout the commencement of the present century. It lingered in Yorkshire till 1830, and the last male bird in Norfolk is believed to have been destroyed in 1838, though females lingered on till 1845, since which time the species has only been represented here by occasional stragglers.
That curious and interesting bird, the spoonbill, was formerly a regular summer visitor to this country, and bred in the marshes of Norfolk and Suffolk. It was, however, exterminated towards the end of the seventeenth century. The destruction of these birds is simply to be regretted, but the same cannot be said with regard to some of the largest birds of prey. The golden eagle bred as far south as Derbyshire in 1668, but now it is confined to the west and north of Scotland, nor can we desire its range, to be once more extended. As Mr. Seebohm
says • Most certainly the golden eagle, when he lives where game is scarce, is a pest-truly, indeed, the pride and the pest of the parish,” aye, and of the whole country-side as well. The golden eagle has been known, on one Highland sheep-farm alone, in the course of a single season, to carry off as many as thirty-five lambs. Probably the amount is under-estimated, for on such immense tracts of country as the Highland sheep-farms it is impossible to tell how many lambs are really taken.'
The capercailzie, although now an inhabitant of Perthshire and Forfarshire, appears to have been exterminated both in Scotland and Ireland towards the close of the last century. Its presence in Scotland now is due to its having been reintroduced there by Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton in 1837. Some bones found in caves in the north of England also show that it was once an inhabitant south of the Tweed. It is almost exclusively a bird of the pine forest, though occasionally found amongst oaks and beeches. Its habits in Northern Asia are thus described by Mr. Seebohm ť:
. During the long Siberian winters, when the ground is covered for seven months or more with six feet of snow, the ca percailzie feeds almost entirely on the spines of the Scotch fir and the Siberian cedars. As soon as the summer comes the berrics of the cranberry, whortleberry, crowberry, and bilberry, that have been preserved during the winter under the frozen snow, afford it abundant food until insects and their larvæ abound, which, with the tender shoots and buds of various trees, are its principal food until the strawberries
* • British Birds,' vol. i. p. 98.
+ Ibid. vol. ii. p. 441.
and the cloudberries are ripe enough to tempt it to change its diet again. It also feeds upon buckwheat, corn, and acorns.
The hen capercailzie is so much superior to the cock when brought to table that there can be little doubt that she eats very few of the pineneedles, which give to the cock bird a strong flavour of turpentine.'
A bird, which only a hundred years ago was one of the commonest of our birds of prey, and which used to be seen in London, has now almost become extinct. This is the kite, which can now only be regarded as an accidental visitor to England. A few pairs still remain in remote parts of Wales, and in 1857 they yet had nests in the woods of Lincolnshire. There can be little doubt that before long it will be utterly exterminated from our islands.
A very interesting bird, once an inhabitant of Britain, but now everywhere utterly extinct, is known as the great auk. It was about the size of a goose, but, having very sınall wings, was quite unable to fly. Being a powerful bird with a strong bill and a most accomplished diver, it would have continued to live on in full security but for man's reckless destruction. Unable to rise in the air like other water fowl, and deposit its eggs in security on high ledges of rock, it could only shuffle along some gentle slope to lay its eggs at a safe distance above high-water inark. It was formerly very abundant, and hundreds at a time were taken off the coast of Newfoundland in the first quarter of the seventeenth century. In 1813 it was still abundant on the rocky islands off the coast of Iceland; and in 1844 a couple were caught on an island called Eldey. Since then it has disappeared altogether. The last specimen taken in our islands was caught in a landing-net in Waterford Harbour in 1834, and is now preserved in Trinity College. About seventy-six skins and nine skeletons, with sixty-eight eggs and a few bones preserved in collections, are all the relics we have of the now extinct species.
The Labrador duck is another bird which has disappeared, though it lived on till 1852. A very curious handsome starling has become extinct in Mauritius, though, fortunately, a wellpreserved skin of it was acquired by Mr. R. Bowdler Sharpe, and carried by him to the British Museum, where it is most carefully preserved.
The name of this island naturally brings to our recollection the dodo, so generally known by name as a bird which has become extinct in modern times, that is, by the end of the seventeenth century. Another bird, which inhabited the island of Rodriguez, and was larger than a turkey, has also become extinct. It was know as the solitaire, and lived to a somewhat Vol. 171.–No. 342.