Page:The Zoologist, 4th series, vol 3 (1899).djvu/194

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THE ZOOLOGIST.
 

THE COLORATION OF BRITISH BIRDS AND THEIR EGGS.

By W. Storrs Fox, M.A., F.Z.S.

 

Some three years ago I made a rough table of the coloration of British birds and their eggs. I did this for the benefit of a local Naturalists' Club. Last year I had reason to revise this table. As I do not know of the existence of anything on quite similar lines, it has struck me that it may be of interest to some of the readers of 'The Zoologist.'

In dealing with coloration it stands to reason that there cannot be one law for birds found in the British Islands, and another which applies to those inhabiting the rest of the world. But, being more familiar with our own birds, I have drawn my illustrations from them almost entirely. I believe that the principles laid down in this paper are of universal application, and that the interest attached to them will not be lessened by the fact that the examples given are taken from a small group of islands.

The introduction to the second volume of Seebohm's 'British Birds' consists of an account by Mr. Charles Dixon of the protective colour of eggs. The subject is there dealt with at some length. Dr. A.R. Wallace, when treating of the coloration of birds' eggs, refers to that "valuable work."[1] Mr. Dixon has collected a number of very interesting facts, and everyone interested in the subject ought to read his account.

It will be seen from the two following tables that certain general principles govern the colours of both birds and their eggs. There are, however, some very awkward exceptions to the rule. Perhaps someone will throw light upon these difficulties. When it is clear that eggs are usually protectively coloured, it is strange that we ever should come across any which lack such protection.

  1. 'Darwinism,' p. 214.