10 MAY 1930, Page 14


Just twenty-one years ago a regular practice of ringing birds (mostly in this country nestlings) was set afoot ; and over a quarter of a million birds of most species have been ringed under one scheme. The chief author and organizer is Mr. Witherby and his "British Birds" scheme is much the biggest and most fruitful. In his latest—and coming of age— report he gives some very suggestive examples of recovery. A widgeon, ringed in Kinross, was recovered two years later at Novgorod, Russia ; and a ring-ouzel, marked in Dumfries was recovered in Algeria. On the whole astoundingly few of the very small birds are ever heard of again. Does this, I wonder, indicate that a large number perish on migration and dis-, appear into the sea ? After all the little light rings. are almost indestructible, but is it possible that in spite of their light- ness the rings add enough weight to encumber the flight ? It would, perhaps, be best not to trouble the woodwre.ns and such weak and tiny birds. Swallows, with their mar- vellous power of flight we know to he unaffected ; and one or two of the most marvellous results (of return to a particular pitch) are recorded of their race. Abroad,. in my experience,. the best evidence of definite migratory routes has been supplied, in Europe and Asia by storks, in North America by geese.