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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/725

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LITERARY NOTICES.

ated which lie east of a well-observed land area, because most disturbances in the temperate zone move from the west. Hence, the eastern United States can usually count on timely warning of approaching storms. Still, infallibility can not be expected, however favorable the locality. "It is impossible to suppose," says the author, "that we have yet nearly reached the highest perfection of which forecasting is capable, but still we know enough of the nature of the subject to say with certainty that calculation will never enter much into the science of weather-prevision. Natural aptitude and the experience of many years' study are the qualifications of a successful forecaster. In fact, meteorology is not an exact but an observational science, like geology or medicine."

A Manual of North American Birds. By Robert Ridgway. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company. Pp. 631, with 124 Plates, containing 464 Outline Drawings of the Generic Characters. Price, $7.50.

This noble book, embodying descriptions of all the birds known to frequent the United States, was originally projected by Professor Spencer F. Baird, who had collected, in sympathy with its purpose, the great cabinet of American birds now forming a part of the National Museum. The pressure of official duties which fell upon him prevented his completing the scheme, or even carrying it on. The task—or "the privilege," as he expresses it—of continuing the work then fell to the present author, who is known as an enthusiastic naturalist, and especially interested in birds. He has endeavored to make of it such a manual as its projector would have desired to see as the fruit of his conception. The object of the volume is to furnish a convenient manual of North American ornithology, reduced to the smallest compass by the omission of everything that is not absolutely necessary for determining the character of any given specimen, and including, besides the correct nomenclature of each species, a statement of its natural habitat, and other concomitant data; to provide a handy book for the sportsman and traveler, as well as for the resident naturalist. The greater part of the material on which the work is based has been furnished by the collection of American birds and their eggs which forms a part of the National Museum. The collections of the American Museum of Natural History, in New York city; of the Academy of Natural Sciences, of Philadelphia; of the Boston Society of Natural History; and of the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, have also been consulted; and acknowledgment is made that the private collections of George N. Lawrence, of New York city; William Brewster, of Cambridge, Massachusetts; and H. W. Henshaw, of Washington, have furnished indispensable material in the way of extra-limital species or more extensive series of certain species. Not consultation of specimens alone, however, has been depended upon; "for, however much the proper discrimination of species and subspecies may be a question of material, a great deal depends upon our knowledge of the birds in life, their natural surroundings, and other things which can be learned only out of doors. Fortunately, a very large number of accomplished field-naturalists have carefully observed the habits of our birds, and through their published records have together contributed a vast store of information which no single person could himself have gained. To the much that has been gleaned from this source have been, added the author's field-notes, collected during the period extending from a recent date back to the year 1863, and embracing many measurements of fresh specimens, notes on location of nests, first colors of bill, eyes, feet, etc., and various other useful memoranda." It is intended to embrace the North American species, as they are included within the geographical limits defined in the American Ornithological Union's check-list. But it has at the same time been deemed desirable to include certain extra-limital species from contiguous countries; such as those which are known to inhabit Socorro Island, off the coast of northwestern Mexico, which is North American in its zoological affinities; those species which have been included for the sake of comparison, or on account of the greater or less probability of their occurrence within the southern boundary of the United States; and certain "high-sea" species whose wanderings may make them liable to reach our