Skip to main content

Notes on New England Birds by Henry D. Thoreau

H.T. Clifton
6 (November-December)
Publications Reviewed
Online Text

Notes on New England Birds

By Henry D. Thoreau

Arranged and edited by Francis H. Allen, with eleven illustrations from photographs of birds in nature and a map of Concord, Mass., showing localities mentioned by Thoreau in his JOURNAL. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1910, pp. ix + 452; price $1.75 net.

"Scattered through the fourteen volumes of Thoreau's published JOURNAL are many interesting notes on the natural history of New England and a large proportion of these relate to birds. In the belief that readers and students would be glad to have these bird notes arranged systematically in a single volume, this book has been prepared.

It was, indeed, as a describer rather than as an observer that Thoreau excelled. He never acquired much skill in the diagnosis of birds seen in the field. He never became in any respect an expert ornithologist, and some of the reasons are not far to seek. He was too intent on becoming an expert analogist, for one thing. It better suited his genius to trace some analogy between the soaring hawk and his own thoughts than to make a scientific study of the bird. Moreover his field, including as it did all nature, was too wide to admit of specialization in a single branch."

These words from the editor's preface explain fully the nature and scope of this book.

These are not the complete records from the Journal, but only "those seeming to have some intrinsic value, whether literary or scientific--using both terms in a liberal sense."

The notes were made between the years 1845 and 1860, principally between 1853 and the latter date, and cover some 115 species, besides general and miscellaneous notes (species unidentified).

It is an interesting contribution to the literary side of ornithology and should have some value to the student also.

H.T. Clifton

File attachments

Advanced Search