C. A. (Charles Alexander) Johns.

British birds in their haunts online

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Produced by Chris Curnow, Tom Cosmas, Lynne Smith and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at


By the late
Author of _Flowers of the Field_

Edited, Revised, and Annotated by
Author of _Birds in their Seasons, etc._
Collaborator in all Books by a 'SON OF THE MARSHES'

Illustrated with 64 Coloured Plates (256 Figures) by







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| _Each with a series of Coloured Plates and |
| Text-illustrations._ |
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| F.L.S., revised by CLARENCE ELLIOTT. |
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| By Dr. W. E. KIRBY. |
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| By C. T. DRUERY. |
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| of Kew Gardens. |
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| By C. A. JOHNS. Edited by E. T. COOK. |
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| With 64 coloured plates. |
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_First Edition_, February, 1909; _Reprinted_, July, 1910;
_Reprinted_, December, 1915; _Reprinted_, November, 1917;
_Reprinted_, June, 1919; _Reprinted_, January, 1921;
_Reprinted_, October, 1922; _Reprinted_, March, 1925;
_Reprinted_, August, 1928; _Reprinted_, December, 1931;
_Reprinted_, January, 1935; _Reprinted_, January, 1938.

Printed in Great Britain by Butler & Tanner Ltd., Frome and London


This admirable work by the late Rev. C. A. Johns, F.L.S., which is now
offered in a new form, has already proved the making of many a
naturalist and it will be a delight and help to many more nature
lovers who wish to determine a species without recourse to bulky
scientific works.

In editing the present edition I have carefully preserved all Mr.
Johns' delightful personal stories and his descriptions of the birds
and their daily life in their haunts, but I have brought the
scientific arrangement of the species up to date, as well as altered
the nomenclature, in accordance with present-day knowledge and use.

We begin with the Passeres because modern ornithologists are now
nearly all agreed that this order attains the highest Avian

I have rectified statements as to the local distribution of various
species which, with the progress of time and local changes, no longer
apply, and have added facts here and there which I considered of some

The faithful and beautiful presentments made by Mr. William Foster for
this new edition have no need of our commendation to the public.



(_Numbered in accordance with the Plates and Descriptions in this


Bill various; feet adapted for perching on trees or on the ground (not
for grasping, wading, or swimming); toes four, all in the same plane,
three before and one behind; claws slender, curved, and acute. Food,
various; that of the nestlings, perhaps in all instances, soft insects.


Bill as long as the head, compressed at the sides; upper mandible arched
to the tip, which is not abruptly hooked, notch well marked, but not
accompanied by a tooth; gape furnished with bristles; feet long, with
curved claws. Food - insects, snails and fruits.


Young in first plumage differ from adults in having the upper and under
parts spotted.

Genus 1. TURDUS (Thrush, Blackbird, etc.) Bill moderate, compressed at
the point; upper mandible notched, bending over the lower one; gape
furnished with a few bristles; nostrils basal, lateral, oval, partly
covered by a naked membrane; tarsus longer than the middle toe;
wings and tail moderate; first primary very short or almost
abortive, second shorter than the third or fourth, which are the
longest. _Page 1_

2. SAXÍCOLA (Wheatear). Bill straight, slender, the base rather
broader than high, advancing on the forehead, compressed towards the
point; upper mandible keeled, curved, and notched; gape surrounded
by a few bristles; nostrils basal, lateral, oval, half closed by a
membrane; first primary half as long as the second, which is shorter
than the third, third and fourth longest; tarsus rather long; claw
of the hind toe short, strong and curved. _Page 10_

3. PRATÍNCOLA (Chats). Bill shorter and broader than in Saxicola;
bristles at the gape strongly developed. Wings and tail rather short.
_Page 12_

4. RUTICILLA (Redstarts). Bill slender, compressed towards the point,
a little deflected and very slightly emarginate; gape with tolerably
large bristles. Nostrils basal, supernal, and nearly round. Wings
moderate; the first quill short; the second equal to the sixth; the
third, fourth and fifth, nearly equal, and one of them the longest.
Legs slender, the tarsus longer than the middle toe, and covered in
front by a single scale and three inferior scutellæ. _Page 14_

5. ERÍTHACUS (Redbreast). Bill rather strong, as broad as it is high
at the base, where it is depressed, slightly compressed towards the
tip; upper mandible bending over the lower and notched, nostrils
basal, oval, pierced in a membrane, partly hid by bristles diverging
from the gape; first primary half as long as the second, fifth the
longest; tail slightly forked. _Page 16_

6. DAULIAS (Nightingale). Bill rather stout, straight, as broad as
high at the base; upper mandible slightly bent over at the tip; gape
with a few short bristles; nostrils basal, round, pierced in a
membrane; first primary very short, second and fifth equal in
length, third and fourth longest; tail somewhat rounded; tarsus
elongated. _Page 17_


Bill strong and broad at base; upper mandible overlapping lower and
slightly notched at tip.

7. ACCENTOR (Hedge-sparrow). Bill of moderate length, strong, straight,
tapering to a fine point; edges of both mandibles compressed and
bent inwards, the upper notched near the tip; nostrils naked, basal,
pierced in a large membrane; feet strong; claw of the hinder toe
longest, and most curved; first primary almost obsolete, the second
nearly equal to the third, which is the longest. _Page 20_


Young on leaving nest differ slightly in colour from adults.

8. SYLVIA (Whitethroats, Blackcap, Warblers). Bill rather stout,
short, not very broad at base; upper mandible decurved towards
point, which is slightly emarginate; nostrils basal, lateral, oval,
and exposed; gape with bristles. Wings moderate, first quill very
short. Tail with twelve feathers, generally rounded. Tarsus
scutellate in front and longer than middle toe; toes and claws
short. _Page 21_

9. ACROCÉPHALUS (Reed, Marsh, Sedge, and Aquatic Warblers). Bill
nearly straight, with culmen elevated, wide at base, compressed
towards tip, and slightly emarginate; edges of lower mandible
inflected; nostrils basal, oblique, oval, and exposed; moderately
developed bristles at gape. Forehead narrow, depressed. Wings rather
short, first quill minute, third usually longest. Tail rounded,
rather long. Legs long; feet large and stout, hind toe strong; claws
long and moderately curved. _Page 25_

10. LOCUSTELLA (Grasshopper Warbler). Differs from other _Sylviinæ_
chiefly in its more rounded tail and longer under tail-coverts. The
late Professor Newton found the tendons of the tibial muscles
strongly ossified in this genus. _Page 28_

11. PHYLLÓSCOPUS (Chiff-chaff, Willow and Wood-warblers). Bill slender,
rather short; upper mandible decurved from middle and compressed
towards tip, which is very slightly notched; nostrils basal,
lateral, oblong, partly operculate, membrane clothed with small
bristle-tipped feathers, internasal ridge very thin; gape beset with
hairs. Wings rather long, first quill comparatively large, third or
fourth longest. Tail slightly forked, twelve feathers. Tarsus scaled
in front, rather long. Toes long, claws curved. _Page 30_


Arboreal. Each nostril covered by a single stiff feather.

12. RÉGULUS (Gold and Fire-crested Wrens). Bill very slender,
awl-shaped, straight, compressed; cutting edges bent inwards about
the middle; nostrils partly concealed by small bristly feathers,
directed forwards; first primary very short, second much shorter
than the third, fourth and fifth longest; tail moderate; tarsus
slender, rather long. _Page 33_


Bill short, straight, conical, sharp-pointed, destitute of a notch;
nostrils basal, concealed by reflected bristly hairs. Small birds,
remarkable for their activity, not highly gifted with musical power,
constantly flitting and climbing about trees and bushes, which they
examine for small insects, suspending themselves in all attitudes,
feeding also on grains and fruits, and not sparing small birds when
they are able to overpower them.

13. ACRÉDULA (Long-tailed Tit). Bill much compressed, both mandibles
curved, upper considerably longer than lower. Eyelids with wide bare
margins. Length of wing quills increases to fourth and fifth, which
are longest. Tail very long, narrow, graduated, outer feathers
one-third length of middle pair. Tarsus long, feet moderate. _Page 35_

14. PARUS (Great, Blue, Cole, Marsh, and Crested Tits). Bill slightly
compressed, upper mandible hardly longer than lower. First wing
quill short, fourth or fifth longest. Tail moderate, even or
slightly rounded. Tarsus moderate, feet strong. _Page 37_


15. PANÚRUS (Bearded Tit or Reedling). Bill short, subconical; upper
mandible curved at tip and bending over lower one, which is nearly
straight; the edges of both somewhat inflected and not notched.
Nostrils basal, oval, pointed in front and partly covered by reflected
bristly feathers. Wing with ten quills, first almost obsolete, third
longest, fourth and fifth nearly equal to it. Tail very long and, much
graduated. Tarsus long and scutellate in front; feet stout; claws not
much hooked. _Page 42_


16. SITTA (Nuthatch). Bill moderate, strong, and slightly conical;
lower mandible ascending from angle to point. Tongue short, horny tip
abrupt and furnished with strong bristles. Nostrils basal, rounded, in
deep hollow, covered by short feathers and hairs. Wings rather long;
first quill much shorter than second, fourth or fifth longest. Tail
short, flexible, broad, nearly square. Legs short, stout, tarsi
scutellate; toes long, strong, hind toe especially, outer toe joined
at base to middle toe; claws large, much hooked. _Page 44_


Bill either straight and subulate or slender, long, and curved;
nostrils basal; tail never emarginate; fourth toe coalesced at first
phalanx with middle toe. Principally insectivorous.

17. CERTHIA (Creeper). Bill rather long, slender, compressed,
decurved, pointed; nostrils basal, lateral, elongate, partly covered
by membrane. Wings moderate, rounded, first feather short, fourth
and fifth longest. Tail of twelve feathers, long, stiff, pointed,
slightly decurved. Feet large, tarsus slender; fore toes long,
united at base as far as first joint; claws moderate, but much
curved; hind toe short, but with long curved claw. Plumage soft and
thick, especially above. _Page 47_


18. TRÓGLODYTES (Wren). Bill moderate, compressed, slightly curved,
not notched, pointed. Nostrils basal, oval, partly covered by
membrane. Wings short, concave, rounded; first quill rather short,
fourth or fifth longest. Tail generally short; its feathers soft and
rounded. Tarsus rather long and strong, middle toe united at base to
outer but not to inner toe; hind toe as long or longer than middle
toe; claws long, stout and curved. Plumage long and soft. _Page 48_


19. CINCLUS (Dipper). Bill moderate, slightly ascending, angular,
higher than broad at base, straight, compressed, and rounded near
tip; upper mandible slightly decurving at point. Nostrils basal,
lateral; in depression, cleft longitudinally, partly covered by
membrane. Gape very narrow, without bristles. Wings short, broad,
convex; first quill very short, second not so long as third or
fourth, which are nearly equal. Tail short. Legs feathered to
tibio-tarsal joint; tarsus longer than middle toe; lateral toes
equal in length, outer toe slightly connected with middle. Whole
body closely covered with down. _Page 51_


Bill with notch in upper mandible; nostrils placed well in front of
base of bill and quite bare.

20. ORIÓLUS (Oriole). Bill an elongated cone, depressed at the base;
upper mandible keeled above, notched near the point, bending over
the lower one; nostrils basal, lateral, naked, pierced horizontally
in a large membrane; tarsus not longer than the middle toe; wings
moderate; first primary very short, second shorter than the third,
which is the longest. _Page 53_


Bill nearly straight, short at the base, diminishing regularly to a
sharp point, which is not distinctly notched; the ridge of the upper
mandible; ascends upon the forehead, dividing the plumage of that
part; nostrils placed low in the bill; planta tarsi entire; wings
moderate, not reaching to end of tail. An extensive and widely
diffused family, comprising species for the most part above the
average size of Passerine birds, yet inferior to the Crows. They are
in general social, feeding much on the ground; their legs and feet are
robust, their gait stately, their plumage, though commonly of dark
colours, is lustrous, with reflections of steel-blue, purple, or

21. STURNUS (Starling). Bill straight, forming an elongated cone,
depressed broad at the base, bluntish; upper mandible broader than
the lower; nostrils at the base of the bill, partly closed by an
arched membrane; first primary very short, second longest. _Page 54_

22. PASTOR (Rose-coloured Starling). Bill slightly arched, forming an
elongated cone, compressed; nostrils at the base of the bill partly
covered by a feathery membrane; wings with the first primary very
short, second and third longest. _Page 56_


Bill powerful, more or less compressed at the sides; upper mandible
more or less arched to the point without distinct notch; gape nearly
straight; nostrils concealed by stiff bristles. Hallux very strong,
but with its claw not as long as the middle toe and claw. Birds of
firm and compact structure; their wings long, pointed, and powerful;
their feet and claws robust. In disposition bold and daring, extremely
sagacious, easily tamed and made familiar. Most of them have the power
of imitating various sounds, but their natural voices are harsh. They
evince a remarkable propensity for thieving and hiding brilliant and
gaudy substances. In appetite they are omnivorous.

23. PYRRHÓCORAX (Chough). Bill longer than the head, rather slender,
arched from the base, and pointed; nostrils oval; feet strong,
tarsus longer than the middle toe; wings rounded, first primary
short, fourth and fifth the longest; tail even at the end. _Page 56_

24. NUCÍFRAGA (Nutcracker). Bill about as long as the head, straight,
conical, the base dilated, and dividing the feathers of the
forehead; mandibles blunt, the upper somewhat the longer; nostrils
round; wings rather long and pointed; first primary shorter than the
second and third, fourth longest; tail nearly even. _Page 57_

25. GÁRRULUS (Jay). Bill shorter than the head, conical; both
mandibles equally curved, the upper notched near the tip; crown
feathers forming a crest; wings rounded, fourth, fifth, and sixth
primaries nearly equal, and the longest; tarsus longer than the
middle toe; tail moderate, slightly rounded. _Page 58_

26. PICA (Magpie). Bill, nostrils, and feet as in Corvus; wings short
and rounded; tail long, graduated. _Page 59_

27. CORVUS (Raven, Crows, Rook). Bill not longer than the head,
strong, straight at the base, cutting at the edges, and curved
towards the point; nostrils oval; feet strong, tarsus longer than
the middle toe; wings pointed, first primary moderate, second and
third shorter than the fourth, which is the longest; tail moderate,
rounded. _Page 61_


Bill strong, arched, and hooked, the upper mandible strongly notched
after the manner of the FALCONIDÆ; claws adapted for capturing insects
and even small birds. Sylvan. Young barred below.

28. LÁNIUS (Shrike, or Butcher Bird). Bill short, flattened vertically
(compressed) at the sides; gape furnished with bristly feathers
directed forwards; wings with the first three primaries graduated,
the third and fourth being the longest. _Page 73_


Bill stoat, approaching, especially in the form of the lower mandible,
to that of the Corvidæ; the upper mandible is however somewhat broad
at the base, flat, with the upper edge more or less angular and
ridged, and the tip distinctly notched. Feet usually stout, with the
outer toe united to the middle one as far as, or beyond, the first
joint. They feed principally on berries and other soft fruits,
occasionally also on insects.

29. ÁMPELIS (Waxwing). Bill as above; nostrils oval, concealed by
small feathers directed forwards; wings long and pointed; first and
second primaries longest, some of the secondaries and tertials
terminating in wax-like prolongations of their shafts. _Page 76_


Bill broad, flattened horizontally (depressed), slightly toothed and
adapted for catching small flying insects; nostrils more or less
covered by bristly hairs; feet generally feeble.

30. MUSCÍCAPA (Flycatcher). Bill moderate, somewhat triangular,
depressed at the base, compressed towards the tip, which is slightly
curved downwards; gape armed with stiff bristles; tarsus equal to or
longer than the middle toe; side toes of equal length; wings with
the first primary very short, and the third and fourth longest.
_Page 77_


Beak short but broad, and more or less flattened horizontally; mouth
very deeply cleft; feet small and weak; wings with nine visible
primaries, long and powerful, and thus adapted for sustaining a
protracted flight in pursuit of winged insects, which form the sole
sustenance of these birds; tail long and usually forked; plumage
close, smooth, often burnished with a metallic gloss. Migratory birds,
spending the summer in temperate climates, but being impatient of
cold, withdrawing in winter to equatorial regions.

31. HIRUNDO (Swallow). Bill short, depressed, very wide at base,
commissure straight. Nostrils basal, oval, partly closed by
membrane. Tail deeply forked, of twelve feathers, the outermost
greatly elongated and abruptly attenuated. Legs and feet slender and
bare; toes rather long, three in front, one behind; claws moderate.
_Page 80_

32. CHELÍDON (Martin). Bill short, depressed, very wide at base,
commissure slightly decurved. Nostrils basal, oval, partly closed by
membrane and opening laterally. Tail forked, of twelve feathers,
outermost not abruptly attenuated. Legs and feet slender, closely
feathered above; toes rather long, three in front, one behind; claws
moderate, sharp. _Page 83_

33. CÓTILE (Sand-martin). Bill short, depressed, very wide at base,
commissure straight. Nostrils, wings and tail as in Chelidon. Legs
and feet slender, and bare except for tuft of feathers on tarsus
just above hallux; toes moderate, three in front, one behind; claws
strong. _Page 84_


Remarkable for the shortness, thickness, and powerful structure of the
bill; the upper and lower mandibles are usually equally thick, and
their height and breadth are nearly alike, so that the bill when
closed presents the appearance of a short cone, divided in the middle
by the gape. By its aid they break open the hard woody capsules and
fruit-stones containing the seeds and kernels which form their chief
food. At nesting-time many species live on insect larvæ, with which
the young are almost exclusively fed. The wings have nine visible
primaries. This family is one of immense extent, consisting of
relatively small birds.

34. LIGURINUS (Greenfinch). Bill compressed towards tip, with scarcely
perceptible notch at point; nostrils basal, concealed by stiff
feathers directed forwards; wings rather pointed, first quill
obsolete, second, third and fourth nearly equal and longest. Tail
rather short, slightly forked. Tarsus scutellate in front; toes
moderate; claws arched and laterally grooved. _Page 86_

35. COCCOTHRAUSTES (Hawfinch). Bill tapering rapidly to point, culmen
rounded; mandibles nearly equal, edges inflected and slightly
indented. Nostrils basal, lateral, oval, nearly hidden by projecting
and recurved frontal plumes. Wings with first quill obsolete, third
and fourth primaries nearly equal, sixth, seventh, and eighth curved
outwards. Tail short, and nearly square. Tarsus scutellate in front,
covered at sides with single plate, stout and short; claws
moderately curved, rather short and strong. _Page 87_

36. CARDUÊLIS (Goldfinch and Siskin). Bill a rather elongated cone,
compressed at the tip, and finely pointed; wings long, pointed;

Online LibraryC. A. (Charles Alexander) JohnsBritish birds in their haunts → online text (page 1 of 39)