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Bird Flocks and the Breeding Cycle

Nature volume 142, page 595 (01 October 1938) | Download Citation



THE author spent about two years on uninhabited Priest Island, off the north-west coast of Scotland. There he observed the breeding behaviour of the sea-birds, particularly of the lesser black-backed and herring gulls. He reports on his observations in this book, and presents a shrewd conclusion which one feels may lead to the solution of many problems, such as the lack of elasticity or recuperative power in the population of a species when its numbers fall below a certain level. It is understood by the majority of naturalists that the breeding behaviour of individual pairs is a sufficient stimulus to bring mating to its successful conclusion. Now Dr. Darling finds in certain birds which have social habits that the proper pitch of emotion can only be reached by the combined behaviour of a certain minimum population. This is an important contribution to the study of animal behaviour, and a book which brings to the layman from the authority himself the result of his scientific observation.

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