MR. SELOUS may fairly be called a pioneer. The habits of some few wild animals, such as bees and ants, which can be observed without much difficulty, have been carefully studied; but, except in rare and isolated instances, wild birds have never been made the object of prolonged and patient watching. Since the days of White, Naumann and Montagu, the energies of ornithologists have been devoted rather to problems of classification and distribution than to the “life and conversation” of the birds, and though books by field-naturalists (real and so-called) have been legion, few of them have thrown much light upon problems of animal life and intelligence. Curiosities of bird-life are constantly reported, but the every-day habits of common birds have not been patiently and persistently studied. This work has now been begun by Mr. Selous with admirable accuracy and self-restraint, and his book should have a most wholesome effect on our rising generation of ornithologists, who need to realise that there is a vast field of work still left for them in this country, and that it is not necessary for them to travel long distances in order to make themselves useful or famous.
By Edmund Selous. Pp. 337. The Haddon Hall Library. (London: J. M. Dent and Co., 1901.) Price 7s. 6d.
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Bird Watching . Nature 64, 325 (1901). https://doi.org/10.1038/064325c0