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The Naturalist in La Plata   By: (1841-1922)

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THE NATURALIST IN LA PLATA

BY

W. H. HUDSON, C.M.Z.S.

JOINT AUTHOR OF "ARGENTINE ORNITHOLOGY"

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY J. SMIT

THIRD EDITION.

NEW YORK D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 1895

PREFACE.

The plan I have followed in this work has been to sift and arrange the facts I have gathered concerning the habits of the animals best known to me, preserving those only, which, in my judgment, appeared worth recording. In some instances a variety of subjects have linked themselves together in my mind, and have been grouped under one heading; consequently the scope of the book is not indicated by the list of contents: this want is, however, made good by an index at the end.

It is seldom an easy matter to give a suitable name to a book of this description. I am conscious that the one I have made choice of displays a lack of originality; also, that this kind of title has been used hitherto for works constructed more or less on the plan of the famous Naturalist on the Amazons. After I have made this apology the reader, on his part, will readily admit that, in treating of the Natural History of a district so well known, and often described as the southern portion of La Plata, which has a temperate climate, and where nature is neither exuberant nor grand, a personal narrative would have seemed superfluous.

The greater portion of the matter contained in this volume has already seen the light in the form of papers contributed to the Field, with other journals that treat of Natural History; and to the monthly magazines: Longmans', The Nineteenth Century, The Gentleman's Magazine, and others: I am indebted to the Editors and Proprietors of these periodicals for kindly allowing me to make use of this material.

Of all animals, birds have perhaps afforded me most pleasure; but most of the fresh knowledge I have collected in this department is contained in a larger work (Argentine Ornithology), of which Dr. P. L. Sclater is part author. As I have not gone over any of the subjects dealt with in that work, bird life has not received more than a fair share of attention in the present volume.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I. THE DESERT PAMPAS

CHAPTER II. CUB PUMA, OR LION OF AMERICA

CHAPTER III. WAVE OF LIFE

CHAPTER IV. SOME CURIOUS ANIMAL WEAPONS

CHAPTER V. FEAR IN BIRDS

CHAPTER VI. PARENTAL AND EARLY INSTINCTS

CHAPTER VII. THE MEPHITIC SKUNK

CHAPTER VIII. MIMICRY AND WARNING COLOURS IN GRASSHOPPERS

CHAPTER IX. DRAGON FLY STORMS

CHAPTER X. MOSQUITOES AND PARASITE PROBLEMS

CHAPTER XI. HUMBLE BEES AND OTHER MATTERS

CHAPTER XII. A NOBLE WASP

CHAPTER XIII. NATURE'S NIGHT LIGHTS

CHAPTER XIV. FACTS AND THOUGHTS ABOUT SPIDERS

CHAPTER XV. THE DEATH FEIGNING INSTINCT

CHAPTER XVI. HUMMING BIRDS

CHAPTER XVII. THE CRESTED SCREAMER

CHAPTER XVIII. THE WOODHEWER FAMILY

CHAPTER XIX. MUSIC AND DANCING IN NATURE

CHAPTER XX. BIOGRAPHY OF THE VIZCACHA

CHAPTER XXI. THE DYING HUANACO

CHAPTER XXII. THE STRANGE INSTINCTS OF CATTLE

CHAPTER XXIII. HORSE AND MAN

CHAPTER XXIV. SEEN AND LOST

APPENDIX

INDEX

THE NATURALIST IN LA PLATA,

CHAPTER I.

THE DESERT PAMPAS.

During recent years we have heard much about the great and rapid changes now going on in the plants and animals of all the temperate regions of the globe colonized by Europeans. These changes, if taken merely as evidence of material progress, must be a matter of rejoicing to those who are satisfied, and more than satisfied, with our system of civilization, or method of outwitting Nature by the removal of all checks on the undue increase of our own species. To one who finds a charm in things as they exist in the unconquered provinces of Nature's dominions, and who, not being over anxious to reach the end of his journey, is content to perform it on horseback, or in a waggon drawn by bullocks, it is permissible to lament the altered aspect of the earth's surface, together with the disappearance of numberless noble and beautiful forms, both of the animal and vegetable kingdoms. For he cannot find it in his heart to love the forms by which they are replaced; these are cultivated and domesticated, and have only become useful to man at the cost of that grace and spirit which freedom and wildness give... Continue reading book >>




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