The first volume by Mr. Oates on the Birds of British India was published in 1889 under the editorship of Dr. W. T. Blanford and it was then estimated that in this and the three succeeding volumes the number of species dealt with would exceed those enumerated in Jerdon's classical "Birds of India" by more than one half. Mr. Oates had been able to come to England on furlough and was thus able to utilize the collection of Indian birds in the British Museum, which included amongst other large collections Mr. Hume's collection of 60,000 skins. The second of the volumes written by Mr. Oates appeared the following year but as he was unable to obtain an extension of his two years' furlough he had to be content with issuing a somewhat smaller volume than usual. Still, he succeeded in covering the whole of the Passerine birds, the largest and most difficult of all the great orders.
The two remaining volumes on Birds were written by Dr. W. T. Blanford and published respectively in 1895 and 1898.
These volumes on Birds have been for many years out of print, and there has been a constant demand for a re-issue of them. It is therefore with great pleasure that with the sanction of the authorities of the India Office I have been able to secure the services of Mr. E. C. Stuart Baker in preparing this much needed new edition.