18 MAY 1912, Page 20

SOME NATURAL HISTORY BOOKS.* OUR first natural history book is

a good instance of the. abundant fare that is now provided for the general reader

• (1) The Romance of the Seasons. By F. Martin. Duncan, F'.R.M.S., JP:B.F.& With Si Illustrations from original Photographs by the author. London Chapman and Hall. (Os. net.)—(2) First Book of Zoology. By T. Ii. Burlend,M.A., B.Sc. London : Macmillan and Co, [1.s. 6d.i —(3) A History of British Mammals. By (Jerald E. H. Barrett-Hamilton, B.A. (Cantab.), M. R.I.A., P.Z.S. With Illustrations drawn by Edward A. Wilson. Part IX.. London': Gurney and Jackson. [2e. Oil, not per part.]—(4) The Home Life of the Osprey: Photo- graphed and Described by Clinton G. Abbott, B.A. With 82 Plates. London Withorby and Co. [Os. not,]—(ti) Birds of the Water, Wood, and Wage. By H. Guthrie-Smith. Wellington, N.Z. Whitcombo and Tombs, Ltd.—(6) Bulletin of the British Ornithologists Char. Edited by W. R. Ogilvie-Grant. Vol. XXVIII. London : Witherby and Co. [6s.1—(7) Fade, Pairs, and Claws. By W. P. Pyoraft, P.Z.S., A.L.S. Pictures by Edwin Noble, R.B.A. London Wells Gardner, Barton and Co. [Ss. net.1—(8) The Adventures of Jack Rabbit. By Richard Kearton, F.Z.S., F.R.P.S. With 8 Autochromes and numerous Photographs direct from Nature, London: Cassell and Co., Ltd. IBS.] The Romance of the Seasons, by Mr. F. Martin Duncan, has two merits. It is pleasant reading and the information is accurate. Sometimes the reader may possibly weary of "Demeter the great Earth-mother" mourning the departure of Persephone, and Tennyson's lines about kind hearts and coronets are a trifle hackneyed to quote. But Mr. Duncan travels over well-trodden ground, and he gives clear information such as the general reader with a taste for natural history in small doses will appreciate. So, following the seasons, we read about pollination in flowers, the development of tad- poles, carnivorous plants, chlorophyll, stomata in leaves, cats and clover, and the life of hydra and rotifer in ponds. Without much attempt at originality the writer makes his chapters interesting to those whose knowledge is meagre. He is a keen lover of nature and well informed. For the young his book is admirable. It is written simply as to language, and it is wide in scope. Almost the only slip we have noticed is Drosera Anglifolia for D. Anglia. There are numerous good photographs of plants, birds' nests, insects, and the like. It seems a slight exaggeration to write of the "sense- less sacrifice of plovers' eggs to appease the depraved appe- tite of the gourmet."

The First Book of Zoology is a well-illustrated little intro- ductory school book of 150 pages. The author, Mr. T. H. Burlend, is assistant lecturer in zoology in the University College of South Wales, and manages to cover a good deal of ground and to impart accurately certain general ideas. He begins well by taking as types an earthworm, a snail, a fly, and other familiar insects. It would have been as well to have done the same by taking one typical mammal instead of attempting in ten pages to cover an excessive amount of ground. There is elementary practical work, and there are a few questions at the end of each chapter. Mr. Burlend has so successfully avoided many technical words that it seems a pity to introduce the needless terms altrices and pracoces into the chapter on birds. By a slip (on p. 72) Inseeta is described as the " order " and Lepidoptera as the "class." The scheme of the book seems well adapted to interest a child in the serious study of animals. Reproduction is dealt with rather more fully than is usual in an elementary text-book.

Some time ago, when the first numbers were published, we noticed at length the appearance in parts of a work which deserves the attention of all who are interested in the zoology of these islands. Part IX. of Major G. E. H. Barrett- Hamilton's History of British Mammals ends the shrews and brings us to the rodents. Another part is promised in January. The high expectations of those who study small mammals have not, we think, been disappointed by Major Barrett-Hamilton's painstaking and learned labours.

We pass now to two books devoted exclusively to birds and bird-life. The Home Life of the Osprey, by Mr. Clinton G. Abbott, adds another volume to the well-illustrated series with which Messrs. Witherby and Co. have delighted ornithologists. The American bird is, at most, only sub-specifically different from the European form. It is strange that this vanishing British bird should in the Eastern United States nest abundantly close to the noisiest seaside resorts, within sound of electric trams and occasionally on railroad telegraph posts. At Gardiner's Island, a well-known breeding locality whore the birds are protected, three miles from the eastern end of Long Island, there is a colony of about 200 nests. Here during various visits Mr. Abbott managed to observe their domestic habits closely and to obtain a good series of photographs. To this he has added others equally excellent by Mr. Howard H. Cleaves, an American ornithologist. During migration ospreys habitually visit the parks and suburbs of New York. Here a few get destroyed. " Yet in spite' of persecution," writes Mr. Abbott, "ospreys still nest, or attempt to nest, annually within the city limits of New York." The plates and acconspanying.text are full of extremely interesting matter.

Birds of the Water, Wood, and Waste, by Mr. H. Guthrie- Smith, is an account by an amateur ornithologist of some of

the birds to be found round his New Zealand sheep station.

We have had many similar works in this country, but com- paratively little has appeared illustrating with a camera the domestic habits of birds in New Zealand. Mr. Guthrie- Smith, with needless modesty, apologizes for the unsatis- factory nature of his photographs ; but this is unnecessary, for the majority are quite in the first class of bird-photographs. They form an attractive feature and are well reprodneed. , It is a misfortune that no Latin names appear in the hook, for the English reader, though an ornithologist, is at a loss to discover what species is being dealt with when Mr. Guthrie- Smith speaks of ' the Kingfisher," the Harrier,' or 'the Pigeon,' or uses the local names. The text contains detailed personal observation, some based on diaries, much obtained in the course of photography. Only a score or so of species are in- cluded, but an index would have added to the value of the book.

So far as ornithologists are concerned, it will be enough to record the publication of Volume XXVIII. of the Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. Every one who takes any serious interest in the study of birds knows the mass of valuable observations collected by the Committee. The present volume covers the spring migration of 1910, and also records some notes on the movements of birds in the autumn of 1909. There are maps, particulars as to weather, and reports from lighthouses. The services of many more observers all over England are still to be desired to fill up schedules daily during the spring. The first (serious and authentic) cuckoo was reported from Devonshire on March 24th.

We may end with two natural history books written especially for young people. In Pads, Paws, and Claws we have an attractive "animal book" for children, though why it should be printed on brown paper we have not discovered. There are a great number of effective and pleasing coloured plates by Mr. Edwin Noble, and the text supplied by Mr. Pyoraft may be recommended as combining sound zoology with fairly easy language. The animals we learn about range from elephants, lions, and tigers to sloths, ant-eaters, and harvest-mice.

In The Adventures of Tack Rabbit we have what Mr. Kearton calls a Nature Story-Book and one that cannot fail to delight young people. Old father rabbit tells his story in answer to questions from his youngsters. There is no need to remind our readers that Mr. Kearton, as an observer and a photographer, has acquired knowledge of the wild life of this country. His story, moreover, is pleasantly and vivaciously told, woven with skill, so that the incidents may adapt themselves to Mr. Kearton's vast stock of photographs.

The volume is illustrated with a profusion of these, and eight of them are coloured. Mr. Kearton is anxious to impress on the reader that all the strange adventures and incidents are true. This is nonsense. The sentiments of the rabbit are those of an English gentleman expressed in a pure and varied vocabulary. The result is a mixture of story book and natural history very attractive to children.