Bird-Lore/Volume 01/No. 2/Sketch Book of British Birds

Sketch Book of British Birds. By R. Bowdler Sharpe, L. L. D. , F. L. S. With Colored Illustrations by A. F. and C. Lydon, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, New York, E. & J. B. Young & Co. 4to. Pages XX + 255. Numerous colored illustrations. Price, $6.

Although more books have been written about British birds than on the birds of any other region, and although Dr. Sharpe has written more bird books than any other living ornithologist, this we believe is the first treatise he has produced on the birds of his native land. He explains that the text is only a “running commentary” on the pictures, but claims that his “Systematic Index” is “the most complete record of the birds in the ‘British List’ yet published.” It enumerates 445 species of birds which, according to Dr. Sharpe, have been recorded from Great Britain. In his ‘Introduction’ he classifies these according to the manner of their occurrence, as follows: Species which have probably escaped from confinement, 14; Indigenous species, 138; Visitors from the South—regular, 35, occasional or accidental, 69; Visitors from the East—regular, 5, accidental or occasional, 38; Visitors from the North—regular, 35, occasional or accidental, 29; Visitors from the West—regular 1, occasional, 43. The latter are all American species, and the number recorded indicates how much more frequently our birds are found on the other side of the Atlantic than European birds are observed here.

The illustrations consist of colored vignettes in the text of nearly every species. They are not above criticism, but, on the whole, are excellent and form a far more certain and convenient aid to identification than the most detailed description or elaborate key. In many cases even American species of accidental occurrence are figured, and, in this connection, we are tempted to ask why British authors cannot use for our birds the names by which they are known in this country? Who would recognize the Rusty Blackbird under the name of the “Rusty Black Hang-Nest,” a misnomer in every sense of the word, or our Robin as the “American Thrush,” to cite two among numerous examples. F. M. C.