Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/451

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

rapher, and these any one thinking of taking up this branch of art will do well to read carefully. Mr. Chapman considers that a 4x5 plate is the size best adapted for general purposes, and notes that while a lens with short focus may serve for photographing nests and eggs, for the birds themselves a rapid lens with focus of fourteen to eighteen inches should be used. The rest of the book is for the general reader, and contains many facts of interest concerning the haunts, habits, and home life of a number of birds from the well-known sparrow to the unfamiliar pelican, the accounts of the Bird Rock and Pelican Island being the most interesting. Some of the illustrations are a little disappointing, and emphasize the difficulties of photographing wild birds, but there is ample compensation for these in the excellence of others, particularly those devoted to Percé, Bonaventure and Bird Rock. This is equally true of birds and scenery, the views of Percé Rock being the finest that have fallen under our notice. Mr. Chapman's estimate of the feathered population of Great Bird Rock, which he puts at 4,000, is by far the smallest yet made, and probably has the soundest basis, and shows a sad diminution from the hosts of fifty years ago.


'Bird Homes,' by A. Radclyffe Dugmore, seems well adapted for its stated purpose of stimulating the love of birds, helping the ordinary unscientific person to get some closer glimpses of them, and aiding in the study of their wonderfully adapted nests and beautiful eggs. Furthermore, it will probably create a strong desire in the reader to become a photographer of birds and their nests. To further these aims we have a first part containing half-a-dozen chapters devoted among other things to birds' nests and eggs, photographing nests and young birds and the approximate dates when birds begin to nest, this being adapted to the vicinity of New York.


Following this is the bulk of the volume, containing brief descriptions of the birds, their nests, nesting places and eggs, and here the author has confessedly borrowed from Bendire, Davie and other well-known authorities, although one might wish that Mr. Dugmore had introduced more of his own observations, since those given incidentally in the first part are very interesting; where he indulges in theory he is less successful. In place of the usual method of studying the nest from the bird, we have that of studying the bird from the nest, and for this purpose the nests are grouped in classes, a chapter being devoted to each class; thus we have nests open, on the ground in open fields, marshes and generally open country; open nests in trees: nests in bridges, buildings, walls, etc. By this plan any one finding a nest can, with a little care and observation, identify the bird that made it. The illustrations, largely of nests and eggs, are a noteworthy feature of the book, although the three-color process which succeeded so admirably in Dr. Holland's Butterfly Book, is here as equally distinct a failure, the least bad of the colored plates being that showing the nest of the yellow-breasted chat, the worst that of the nest of the Baltimore oriole. Those in black and white, however, merit the highest praise, and this includes the smaller cuts introduced as decorative features in the first portion of the book. It would seem difficult in a half-tone to improve on the plate of young crested flycatchers for clearness of detail, while among others that deserve special mention for artistic effect is the wood thrush on nest, and the nests of the chestnut-sided, yellow, blue-winged and worm-eating warblers. The general 'get-up' of the book is excellent, and the printing of the plates separately permits the use of a dead-faced paper for the text, which is pleasant to the eye.