BIRD LIFE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
whether its use is more than checked. Upon the moors it not only catches the merlins for which it is intended, but cuckoos, nightjars and ring-ouzels fall victims as well. The harmlessness, not to say utility of the owl tribe, whether barn, tawny or longeared, is now so generally recognised that the gamekeeper will usually tell us that he does not care about destroying them, but that he sets the traps for hawks and that the owls blunder into them. The result in either case is much the same.
Considering how long continued and systematic have been the efforts of gamekeepers as a body, it is remarkable how few species have disappeared from our avifauna. The fork-tailed kite, once the scavenger of the London streets, has gone. The buzzard has vanished from the lowlands, but it is still plentiful in the north and west. The blue-grey harrier is now rarely seen beating over fen or moorland. But the sparrow-hawk, though hard pressed, is nowhere exterminated, and, though the magpie has become a rare bird in some game-preserving districts, the numbers of the jay show little, if any, diminution, probably because its nest is not easily found, while the stick-built edifices of crow and magpie are so evident as to offer an easy means of destroying them at one particular time of year. But even in the lowlands there are estates which are not strictly preserved or outlying covers which are neglected. As we reach the