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Birds Of The Plains

by Douglas Dewar

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Text extracted from opening pages of book: BIRDS OF THE PLAINS PREFACE IT is easy enough to write a book. The difficulty is to sell the production when it is finished. That, however, is not the author's business. Nevertheless, the labours of the writer are not over when he has completed the last paragraph of his book. He has, then, in most cases, to find a title for it This, I maintain, should be a matter of little difficulty, I regard a title as a mere distinguishing mark, a brand, a label, a something by which the book may be called when spoken of nothing more. According to this view, the value of a title lies, not in its appropriateness to the subject-matter, but in its distinctiveness. To illustrate : some years ago a lady entered a book seller's shop and askedjfor Drummond's latest book Nux Vomica? The bookseller without a word handed her Lux Mundi. To my way of thinking Lux Mundi is a good title inasmuch as no other popular book has one like it. So distinctive is it that even when different words were substituted the bookseller at once knew what was intended. That the view here put forward does not vl PREFACE find favour with the critics may perhaps be inferred by the exception many of them took to the title of my last book Bombay Ducks. While commending my view to their consideration, r-I have on this occasion endeavoured to meet them by resorting to a more orthodox designation. I am, doubt less, pursuing a risky policy. Most of the reviewers were kind enough to say that Bombay Ducks was a good book with a bad title. When criticising the present work they may reverse the adjectives. Who knows? -. CONTENTS rxOK I. BRITISH BIRDS IN THE PLAINS OK INDIA , r II. THE BIRD IN BLUK 10 III. SPARROWS IN THK NURSERY . . ,16 IV. THE CARE OP YOUNG BIRDS AFTER THEY LEAVB THB NKST 23 V. THK ADJUTANT BIRD 29 VI THK SARUS 35 VII. THK STABILITY OK SPKCIES .... 40 VIII. THK AMADAVAT 46 IX. THE NUTMEG BIRD 5 a X. THE DID-HK-DO-IT 56 XL COBBLER OR TAILOR? 6a XII. A CROW IN COLOURS 68 XIII. UP-TO-DATE SPKCIKS MAKING 73 XIV. HONKYSUCKERS ? 8 XV. A HEWKH OF WOOD 84 XVI. A FEATHERED SPRINTER .... 89 XVII. A BIRD or CHARACTER , ... 94 XVIII. SWIFTS 99 XIX. BIRDS AS AUTOMATA 104 viii CONTENTS PACK XX. PLAYING CUCKOO . . . . in XXI. THE KOEL 117 XXII. THE COMMON DOVES OF INDIA . .124 XXIII. DOVES IN A VERANDAH . 130 XXIV. THE GOLDEN ORIOLE . . , .135 XXV. THE BARN OWL 140 XXVL A TREK-TOP TRAGEDY . . . .145 XXVII. Two LITTLE BIRDS . . . .150 XXVIII. THE PARADISE FLYCATCHER . . .156 XXIX BUTCHER BIRDS 163 XXX. DUCKS 1 68 XXXI, A DETHRONED MONARCH . . .173 XXXII. BIRDS IN THE RAIN . . . .178 XXXIII. THE WEAVER BIRD . . . .183 XXXIV. GREEN PARROTS 190 XXXV. THE ROOSTING OF THK SPARROWS . .197 XXXVI. A GAY DECEIVER . ... 202 XXXVII. THK EMERALD MKROPS , 208 XXXVIII. Do ANIMALS THINK? ... 213 XXXIX* A COWLK OF NKOLKCTED CRAKTSMKN . ai<; XL. BIRDS IN THEIR NESTS .... 224 XLL Buu'. uis 3^ 9 XLII. THE INDIAN CORNY .... 235 ILLUSTRATIONS PACtXG PACK THE GREY PELICAN ( Pckcatws phili$ ensis\ A BIRD OK THE PLAINS Frontispiece THE WHITE-KREASTED KINGFISHER ( Halcyon smymcnsis) 4 THE REDSHANK ( Tetanus taltBdris\ ONE OF THE BRITISH BIRDS FOUND IN INDIA 8 THE INDIAN ROLLER, OR BLUE JAY* ( Coracfas indica) n THE INDIAN ADJUTANT ( Ijeptoptilus Jubiu$) ... 28 )> w 34 LOTRN's SUNBIRD ( Arachuckthra lotenia) .... 78 ( Note the long curved hill, adapted to insertion in ( lowers) THE YELLOW SUNMRD ( Awchntcktkra seylonita] . . 80 NEST OF LOTKN'S SUNBIRD 82 ( Notice that it is built in a spider's web.) LOTKN'S SUNBIRD ( HKN) ABOUT TO KNTXK NEST . 90 THE INDIAN SPOTTED OWLKT ( Atktw knm) . . 94 THE INDIAN PADDY BIRD ( Ar& ola gnyil) . . .114 THE COMMON KINGFISHER ( Aftub fjrjfiVix), ONK OK THE BRITISH BIRDS FOUND IN INDIA ... 144 THE INDIAN KITE ( Milws gwMa) 148 THE GREY-NKCKKD CROW ( Corwts splemitm) ... 190 THE BENGAL RKD-WHISKERED BUUWL ( Otowmpsa cmerid) 230 BIRDS OF THE PLAINS BIRDS OF THE PLAINS BRITISH BIRDS IN THE PLAINS OF INDIA MOST birds are cosmopolitans and



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