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St Kilda and its Birds

Nature volume 68, page 268 (23 July 1903) | Download Citation



ON his return from an ornithological trip to the St. Kilda group last summer, Dr. Wiglesworth delivered before the Liverpool Biological Society a lecture on these islands and their inhabitants—human and otherwise. This lecture has been published in the volume before us, and although the author has little or nothing absolutely new to tell, he has undoubtedly succeeded in producing a very interesting work, which ought to be invaluable to all future tourists in these islands. Although the extension of the breeding range of the fulmar-petrel to the Shetlands has deprived St. Kilda of one of its claims to preeminence, yet it possesses an absolutely peculiar form of wren as well as two mice of its own, while it is also one of the chief breeding-places of the fork-tailed petrel. Moreover, its breeding-list of other sea-birds is comparatively large, so that the island possesses especial interest for the ornithologist and egg-collector. Unfortunately, the latter individual has of late years made himself somewhat too conspicuous, and “when it comes to dealers giving unlimited orders for fork-tailed petrels' eggs at prices which set the whole male population of the island on the alert to dig out every petrel-burrow they can possibly come across, one cannot but feel considerable anxiety as to the future of this interesting species.”High prices are likewise paid for the eggs of the St. Kilda wren, of which large numbers are exported. It would therefore seem that the island stands in urgent need of the special attention of those interested in bird preservation. One of the features of St. Kilda is the number of species of petrels by which it is inhabited, while not less noteworthy are the hordes of puffins which swarm over its grassy slopes, and tenant almost every available nook amongst the rocks and boulders.

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