Although this book is primarily concerned with the 234 kinds of bird that breed regularly or sporadically in Britain and Ireland, its principles are applicable much more widely. Throughout, the authors make it clear that the safety of the nest is a primary consideration and hints on removing traces of a visit are given generally and specifically.
The account for each species begins with a summary of its breeding distribution in Britain and Ireland, illustrated by a map, and with a summary of the habitats favoured for nesting. The second paragraph covers the nest and nest-site, followed by a description of the eggs, the length of the incubation and fledgling periods, the share in nesting duties taken by male and female, and the number of broods each season. The final paragraph, on methods of finding the nest, varies from brevity in the case of colonial birds like Rook and Heron to detailed advice for such difficult nests as Greenshank and Tree Pipit.
An ingenious chart shows the length and intensity of the breeding season and Ian Wallace has drawn delightful thumbnail portraits of all regular nesting species.
The book will be invaluable for observers recording nest data on cards as contribution to the national scheme, for those who want to make detailed observations, including tape-recordings, on the behaviour of adults and young at the nest, for ringers engaged in the study of migration or the age of birds, and for bird photographers.