7 MAY 1927, Page 25

" E.M.N." on Birds E queer thing about this little

book is that while it is the irk of a keen observer who uses his imagination and brings

light to bear on . such comparatively unilluminated

cts of bird life as the territory theory, the raison d'etre song, and bird ecology, it is at the same time so simply and ically written as almost to serve as a primer in the study of how birds live." Mr. Nicholson justifies and elaborates his le very well. You may know nothing whatsoever about rds—this is the book to begin on if you want to learn : or o may be an expert yourself, in which case here is something that will be thoroughly enjoyed, and cannot be overlooked. Of the territory theory, which he expands and inquires to, Mr. Nicholson says : " The land will not support more an a certain number [of birds] and the effort to make it do will infallibly result in the decay of the species. But when s territorial instinct is developed, which insists that the le shall at all costs secure and hold a territory adequate to

d his offspring, the danger of overcrowding is removed.

e proper quota of inhabitants will be made up from the ingest and most self-assertive birds : the rest will then be Polled by the several efforts of the settled population, and which gain a place will have a reasonable chance of mss.' Of bird-song he writes : All the emotions which a bird feels—love, anger, well-being and r so far m that is experienced—may serve to stimulate some sort mug. Well-being or joie-de-vivre is probably the most common, ugh it leaves the least impression. A house-martin warbling ;and faintly to himself, flying in the sun ; the concerted chorus he redwings in the trees on a mild day of early spring, the whisper- / 13315i1c'cjuy. called recording, heard from blackcaps and other r rs sitting hidden in dense bushes, most often in autwnn, seem


ect examples of a primitive type of song."

again :-

The musical qualities we admire are a mere by-product of the nee forces at work, just as the glorious patterns and colours on terflies and birds and deep-sea fishes are. by-products which no

eg creatures except a small fraction of the human race are in the capable of appreciating."

which it may be guessed that Mr. Nicholson is some- .

6 of a Poet besides being as shrewd and unsentimental a "nalist as one could wish to read:

This is a masterly, rare, and exceedingly useful little book, and one which will, perhaps, have a double appeal for those who have read and shown an interest in " E.M.N.'s " contri- butions to the Spectator.