Field OrnithologyField Ornithology. Comprising a Manual of Instruction for Procuring, Preparing, and Preserving Birds, and a Check List of North American Birds.Elliott Coues

1874 American Naturalist  
SO much depends upon accurate and thorough field-work that ornithologists will heartily thank Dr. Coues for his excellent "Manual of Instruction," for it contains just the hints, if followed, to give the highest value to the work of the collector. Poorly prepared skins are unsightly enough, and indeed, a genuine eye-sore in cabinets, but if accompanied by detailed notes of date and locality, with a further record of sex and measurements, they have a far higher scientific value than if in
more » ... e than if in themselves without blemish, but lacked these essential items of information. In this small volume of one hundred and sixteen pages, Dr. Couies has treated the general subject of collecting in a very detailed and highly satisfactory manner, his varied experience in the field, and his knowledge of what constitutes good working material, fitting him eminently for the task he has here attempted. Beginiinog with the selection and care of guns, ammunition and general equipments, he treats in the following chapters of how, where and when to seek for birds, and of how to handle and carry them when obtained ; of note-taking, labelling and measuring, determining sex, etc.; of the preparation of bird-skins, with clirections also for mounting; for collecting and preserving nests and eogs, making cabinets, and guarding collections against insect pests, etc. Assuming the reader's total ignorance of the subject, he adopts an easy, familiar style, with here and *there a raciness that relieves the tediousness of the details which necessarily go to make up works of this class. In respect to one point, however, we beg leave to differ from our accomplished author, and that is in respect to baking skins to rid them of insect pests. The process *is undoubtedly thoroughly efficacious as regards the destruction of the insects, but, what is also of some importance, the baking nearly ruins the skills, rendering them 'extremely fragile. Bird skills, however, seem to suffer much less by this process than mammal skills, which baking once or twice is usually sufficient to utterly ruin,
doi:10.1086/271346 fatcat:a5wmmzasyrak3n7lpnhkml2woq