Published bi-monthly at Santa Clara. Cal.. in the interests and as Official Organ of the Club.
CHESTER BARLOW; Santa Clara, Cal.,
HENRY REED TAYLOR,
DONALD A. COHEN,
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Copyright 1899, by the Cooper Ornithological Club.
Entered at the Santa Clara Post-office as second class matter.
Bird Protection Versus Sentiment.Apropos the wave of bird protection which has been sweeping through all ornithological journals of late, it is well to pause and analyze the motives of the several writers before wholly accepting their pleas, bowing our heads to grief and lamenting the wickedness of collectors at large. The person who has not trod the field from dawn till twilight, who knows nothing of the denizens of the woods and tree-tops, and who has never listened to the seabirds' cries above the boom of old ocean, cannot preach the doctrine of bird protection understandingly. Those who have delved into and grasped many of the delightful secrets which ornithology holds, and who are now urging a proper course in protective work, are worthy the thanks of every true ornithologist. Who can doubt the effectiveness of the work of Mr. Mackay in protecting the Terns on certain islands along the Atlantic seaboard, thus preserving a natural beauty? But those who are joining the wild rush simply to be an Audubonian, — to cry "bird protection" and then listen for the applause — all the while condenming legitimate science, are of vastly a different stamp.
The protectionist who would prevent the slaughter of a single bird is as rampant as the collector who thinks he would be justified in shooting every winged creature of the air. Many excellent pleas have appeared in various journals of late, the writers of which doubtless speak from the heart and wish to eradicate evils, — such as the "egg collecting scourge" as it has been termed — which have some foundation in fact. These writers have studied nature at her best and the birds have no better protector than the ornithologist himself if he be one of conscience, for the collecting of a proper number of birds does not imply brutality. But when some ambitious extremist sits himself down to rend apart the current magazines and even reference works, and makes careful note of every mention of a bird slain or a nest taken (over-looking, of course, the observations and spirit of the article in his zeal) and then within his narrow mind evolves a whining article of"bird protection," he has doubtless gratified his ambition and with folded hands and a sort of rapturous serenity may take his seat beside the faithful! His mission has been filled and the birds may hope for oblivion to swallow him up in so far as he will ever protect them. Such maudlin sentiment is hardly worth condemning and those who are really protecting the birds may well regret such additions to their ranks.
Real protection will be accomplished by the live ornithologists who have a practical mission to perform in this respect, but they may well hesitate to take hold of the work If its effectiveness is to be hindered and made nauseating by the misdirected energy of such persons as we have pointed out. That there are many skins collected today which the demands of science do not warrant, everyone knows. A remedy is needed, which, if it does not materially increase the birds, will at least leave many unslaughtered that annually pay the penalty to the over-zealous collector. Those who accumulate vast series of eggs will have to plead hard for justification, although the egg evil is not so wide-spreading as some have claimed. It is well known that almost every bird will lay a second time when robbed and rear a brood as successfully as if the first nest had been undisturbed.
The two really great evils are the collecting of birds in large numbers during the breeding season, when many young in the nest are sacrificed, and the unlimited collecting of skins for mercenary purposes. We cannot condone either offense, which rarely can justify itself, and the evil as it exists in California will shortly be aired in the Bulletin. Let us have bird protection in a practical way, without all the sentiment which does more than anything else to disgust the majority of well-meaning ornithologists. — C. B.
We are pleased to note that Mr. Robert Baird McLain of Wheeling, W. Va., who became a member of the Cooper Ornithological Club during his attendance at Stanford University, is actively pursuing his work in Herpetology since his departure from the coast. He has recently published three papers under the heading "Contributions to North Ameri-