"...a fascinating collection of information..." -- Dundee Courier, October 06, 2001
"Spellbinding ... simply brimming with fascinating facts... a must have in any library of ornithology." -- Aberfeldy Monthly Magazine
"There are some books you cannot put down ... this is one of them ... it is full of quite fascinating information." -- Highland News, November 10, 2001
"Theres a great deal more to birds than meets the eye." -- Aberfeldy Monthly Magazine, November 09, 2001
From the Inside Flap
From the eider duck restored to life by St Cuthbert to the Twa Corbies of the traditional ballad, and from the thousands of game-birds shot on Victorian sporting estates to present-day efforts to save the capercaillie from extinction, birds have played an integral part in Scottish life. Scottish Birds explores both the known scientific facts and traditional lore about birds in Scotland. It is much more than a field guide or bird-spotters handbook. In absorbing detail it explores myriad ways in which birds have influenced the culture, history and imaginations of Scots throughout the millennia.
The first part of the book recounts the history of birds and man in Scotland since the Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago. Up to the medieval period written records are scarce, but geological and archaeological remains provide tantalising clues to the parts birds played in everyday life. N historical times the interactions of humans and birds have been many and varied. Folklore is full examples, as in the story of Saint Kevin who was praying with arms outstretched when a blackbird laid its eggs in the palm of his hand. Not wishing to disturb the gentle creature he remained in his awkward position until the eggs hatched. Other legends associate the yellow-hammer with the Devil, saying that its egg was gouted with the Deils blood; while more reliable chronicles recount how storks nested on top of St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh in 1416. The practical use of birds in hunting and hawking has a long history in Scotland; and, until quite recent times, in Ness and St Kilda, seabirds such as Fulmar and Puffin were relied on to provide most of the necessities of life.
The second part of the book lists the 195 species of birds that commonly occur in Scotland, each with an individual entry. This gives scientific, Gaelic and Scottish names; a brief history of each species with notes on migration, habitat, distinguishing features, etc.; and gathers together a wealth of notable and curious facts, literary quotations and anecdotes from a vast range of sources, including folk-tales, statistical accounts and eyewitness reports. Anyone with the slightest interest in wildlife or Scottish culture and tradition will find endless fascination and wonder in these pages.