Page:The Zoologist, 4th series, vol 4 (1900).djvu/421

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NOTICES OF NEW BOOKS.

ultimately vanish; though the worst destruction of eggs by human agency is, we are thoroughly convinced, occasioned by the boys of the village.

Mr. Pike's photographing-ground has been principally North Middlesex and South Hertfordshire, and he has in this artistic and harmless occupation acquired a very large experience of birds and their ways, which he has related in a small but charmingly illustrated book. The successful placing of the camera is largely dependent on the habits of his "sitters," and not only the nest but the whole environment is reproduced on his plates. We read with regret the usual story of vanishing species from once frequent haunts. He remembers "the time when it was possible to see a Sparrow-Hawk almost any day in our North Middlesex fields; but now a specimen is only seen at very long intervals; for, although I am constantly abroad in the open air, it is over a year since I saw one of these fine birds on the wing." And again:—"Not very many years ago the Raven used to breed in our inland counties; and not far from my home there still stands a tree in which the last pair of these birds built their nest in Middlesex."

Although the collector becomes callous—and we plead guilty to the impeachment—most will regret the truth contained in Mr. Pike's narrative concerning the Sky-lark:—"It is pathetic to hear, as I have done, how this bird, which makes the countryside so enjoyable, will suddenly stop in the midst of its beautiful song when its nest far below is being robbed of its eggs. I was once a witness of this phenomenon, and felt sad as well as indignant." It is probable that the greatest mystery of life is its sorrow; but with birds the camera will not increase it.

As regards the beauty of the illustrations, we can refer to those reproduced in the present number in connection with Mr. Gurney's paper.

 

 
Bird Gods. By Charles de Kay. With an Accompaniment of Decorations by G.W. Edwards.Harry R. Allenson.

The aim of this book is apparently to assert "the influence of birds and beasts on what may be called prehistoric religion," as against the more prevalent hypothesis that the planets, their satellites, and other natural phenomena have induced this specu-