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Page:The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma (Birds Vol 4).djvu/8

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PREFACE.


work on the Game Birds of India by Mr. Gates, the author of the first two volumes of Birds in the present series, has just appeared, too late for references to it to be inserted in the appendix to this volume.

The classification adopted for the Birds was explained in the Preface to the third volume. The sequence of the Orders is to some extent a matter of convenience, it would have been equally correct to have commenced this volume with the Steganopodes and Herodiones, as the nearest allies of the Accipitrine birds described at the end of the last. At the same time, it is natural to place the Pigeons as near to the Cuckoos and Owls as possible. The arrangement here employed has been preferred chiefly because it more nearly resembles Jerdon's, with whose work Indian naturalists have now been familiar for more than thirty years, and is therefore likely to be found more convenient.

The keys to genera and species in this and other volumes are intended solely to assist in the determination of specimens, and do not necessarily depend on the characters of the greatest importance, nor do the generic keys always serve for species not found in India.

The English names used by Jerdon have been retained, except when they differ from those commonly used in England, or when they have been found to be no longer appropriate, owing either to improved knowledge of the bird's affinities or to the discovery of additional species. Thus such names as Shell Ibis and Pelican Ibis cannot be retained now that we find that the birds to which they are applied are not Ibises but Storks; and it is a mistake to employ any longer the term of "The Golden Plover" for Charadrivs fulvus, when we know that the true Golden Plover of Europe, C. pluvialis, is sometimes a visitor to India.

The number of Indian birds regarded as distinct species in the present work, including the nine added in the